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THE GOLDEN BOUGH 

A STUDY IN MAGIC AND RELIGION 

THIRD EDITION 



PART V 

SPIRITS OF THE CORN 

AND OF THE WILD 

VOL. I 



^m^ 



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

LONDON . BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 

TORONTO 



SPIRITS OF THE CORN 

AND OF THE WILD 



BY 



J. G. FRAZER, D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D. 

FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE 
PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. I 







MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

I 9 I 2 




COPYRIGHT 



6L 

f1 
V.7 



PREFACE 

In the last part of this work we examined the figure of 
the Dying and Reviving God as it appears in the Oriental 
religions of classical antiquity. With the present instalment 
of TJie Golden Bough we pursue the same theme in other 
religions and among other races. Passing from the East to 
Europe we begin with the religion of ancient Greece, which 
embodies the now familiar conception in two typical examples, 
the vine-god Dionysus and the corn-goddess Persephone, 
with her mother and duplicate Demeter. Both of these 
Greek divinities are personifications of cultivated plants, and 
a consideration of them naturally leads us on to investigate 
similar personifications elsewhere. Now of all the plants 
which men have artificially reared for the sake of food the 
cereals are on the whole the most important ; therefore it is 
natural that the religion of primitive agricultural communities 
should be deeply coloured by the principal occupation of 
their lives, the care of the corn. Hence the frequency with 
which the figures of the Corn -mother and Corn -maiden, 
answering to the Demeter and Persephone of ancient Greece, 
meet us in other parts of the world, and not least of all on 
the harvest-fields of modern Europe. But edible roots as 
well as cereals have been cultivated by many races, especially 
in the tropical regions, as a subsidiary or even as a principal 
means of subsistence ; and accordingly they too enter largely 
into the religious ideas of the peoples who live by them. 
Yet in the case of the roots, such as yams, taro, and potatoes, 

V 



vi PREFACE 

the conception of the Dying and Reviving God appears to 
figure less prominently than in the case of the cereals, per- 
haps for the simple reason that while the growth and decay 
of the one sort of fruit go on above ground for all to see, the 
similar processes of the other are hidden under ground and 
therefore strike the popular imagination less forcibly. 

Having surveyed the variations of our main theme among 
the agricultural races of mankind, we prosecute the enquiry 
among savages who remain naore or less completely in the 
hunting, fishing, and pastoral stages of society. The same 
motive which leads the primitive husbandman to adore the 
corn or the roots, induces the primitive hunter, fowler, fisher, 
or herdsman to adore the beasts, birds, or fishes which furnish 
him with the means of subsistence. To him the conception 
of the death of these worshipful beings is naturally presented 
with singular force and distinctness ; since it is no figurative 
or allegorical death, no poetical embroidery thrown over the 
skeleton, but the real death, the naked skeleton, that con- 
stantly thrusts itself importunately on his attention. And 
strange as it may seem to us civilised men, the notion of 
the immortality and even of the resurrection of the lower 
animals appears to be almost as familiar to the savage and 
to be accepted by him with nearly as unwavering a faith as 
the obvious fact of their death and destruction. For the most 
part he assumes as a matter of course that the souls of dead 
animals survive their decease ; hence much of the thought 
of the savage hunter is devoted to the problem of how he can 
best appease the naturally incensed ghosts of his victims so 
as to prevent them from doing him a mischief This refusal 
of the savage to recognise in death a final cessation of the 
vital process, this unquestioning faith in the unbroken con- 
tinuity of all life, is a fact that has not yet received the 
attention which it seems to merit from enquirers into 
the constitution of the human mind as well as into the 
history of religion. In the following pages I have collected 



PREFACE vii 

examples of this curious faith ; I must leave it to others to 
appraise them. 

Thus on the whole we are concerned in these volumes 
with the reverence or worship paid by men to the natural 
resources from which they draw their nutriment, both vege- 
table and animal. That they should invest these resources 
with an atmosphere of wonder and awe, often indeed with a 
halo of divinity, is no matter for surprise. The circle of 
human knowledge, illuminated by the pale cold light of 
reason, is so infinitesimally small, the dark regions of human 
ignorance which lie beyond that luminous ring are so im- 
measurably vast, that imagination is fain to step up to the 
border line and send the warm, richly coloured beams of her 
fairy lantern streaming out into the darkness ; and so, 
peering into the gloom, she is apt to mistake the shadowy 
reflections of her own figure for real beings moving in 
the abyss. In short, few men are sensible of the sharp 
line that divides the known from the unknown ; to most 
men it is a hazy borderland where perception and concep- 
tion melt indissolubly into one. Hence to the savage the 
ghosts of dead animals and men, with which his imagination 
peoples the void, are hardly less real than the solid shapes 
which the living animals and men present to his senses ; 
and his thoughts and activities are nearly as much absorbed 
by the one as by the other. Of him it may be said with 
perhaps even greater truth than of his civilised brother, 
" What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue ! " 

But having said so much in this book of the misty glory 
which the human imagination sheds round the hard material 
realities of the food supply, I am unwilling to leave my 
readers under the impression, natural but erroneous, that 
man has created most of his gods out of his belly. That is 
not so, at least that is not my reading of the history of 
religion. Among the visible, tangible, perceptible elements 
by which he is surrounded — and it is only of these that I 



viii PREFACE 

presume to speak — there are others than the merely nutri- 
tious which have exerted a powerful influence in touching 
his imagination and stimulating his energies, and so have 
contributed to build up the complex fabric of religion. To 
the preservation of the species the reproductive faculties 
are no less essential than the nutritive ; and with them we 
enter on a very different sphere of thought and feeling, to 
wit, the relation of the sexes to each other, with all the 
depths of tenderness and all the intricate problems which 
that mysterious relation involves. The study of the various 
forms, some gross and palpable, some subtle and elusive, in 
which the sexual instinct has moulded the religious con- 
sciousness of our race, is one of the most interesting, as it is 
one of the most difficult and delicate tasks, which await the 
future historian of religion. 

But the influence which the sexes exert on each other, 
intimate and profound as it has been and must always be, is 
far indeed from exhausting the forces of attraction by which 
mankind are bound together in society. The need of mutual 
protection, the economic advantages of co-operation, the 
contagion of example, the communication of knowledge, the 
great ideas that radiate from great minds, like shafts of light 
from high towers, — these and many other things combine to 
draw men into communities, to drill them into regiments, 
and to set them marching on the road of progress with a 
concentrated force to which the loose skirmishers of mere 
anarchy and individualism can never hope to oppose a per- 
manent resistance. Hence when we consider how intimately 
humanity depends on society for many of the boons which 
it prizes most highly, we shall probably admit that of all 
the forces open to our observation which have shaped 
human destiny the influence of man on man is by far the 
greatest. If that is so, it seems to follow that among the 
beings, real or imaginary, which the religious imagination 
has clothed with the attributes of divinity, human spirits are 



PREFACE ix 

likely to play a more important part than the spirits of 
plants, animals, or inanimate objects, I believe that a 
careful examination of the evidence, which has still to be 
undertaken, will confirm this conclusion ; and that if we 
could strictly interrogate the phantoms which the human 
mind has conjured up out of the depths of its bottomless 
ignorance and enshrined as deities in the dim light of 
temples, we should find that the majority of them have 
been nothing but the ghosts of dead men. However, to 
say this is necessarily to anticipate the result of future 
research ; and if in saying it I have ventured to make a 
prediction, which like all predictions is liable to be falsified 
by the event, I have done so only from a fear lest, without 
some such warning, the numerous facts recorded in these 
volumes might lend themselves to an exaggerated estimate 
of their own importance and hence to a misinterpretation 
and distortion of history. 

J. G. FRAZER. 

Cambridge, A,th May 19 12. 



CONTENTS 

Preface Pp. v-ix 

Chapter I. — Dionysus . . . .Pp. 1-34 

Dying and Reviving gods of ancient Greece, pp. i sq. ; the vine-god Dionysus a 
Thiacian deity, 2 sq. ; Dionysus a god of trees, especially fruit-trees, 3 
sq. ; Dionysus a god of agriculture, 5 ; the winnowing-fan as his emblem, 
5 ; use of the winnowing-fan to cradle infants, 5-1 1 ; use of the wiimow- 
ing-fan in the rites of Dionysus, 11 sq. ; death and resurrection of 
Dionysus in myth and ritual, 12- 16; Dionysus as a bull, 16 sq. ; 
Dionysus as a goat, 17 sq. ; custom of rending and devouring animals 

«» and men as a religious rite in Greece, America, and Morocco, 18-22 ; 

later misinterpretations of such customs, 22 sq. ; human sacrifices in the 
worship of Dionysus, 23 sq. ; legends of Pentheus and Lycurgus, 24 sq. ; 
survival of Dionysiac rites among the modern Thracian peasantry, 25-29 ; 
analogy of these modern ceremonies to the rites of Dionysus, especially 
to the festival of the Anthesteria, 29-33 ; legends of human sacrifices in 
the worship of Dionysus perhaps based on misinterpretations of ritual, 
33 •^?- 

Chapter II. — Demeter and Persephone Pp. 35-91 

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 35-37 ; its aim to explain the foundation of the 
Eleusinian mysteries by Demeter, 37 sq. ; revelation of the reaped ear 
of corn at the mysteries, 38 sq. ; Demeter and Persephone personifica- 
tions of the corn, 39 sq. ; Demeter in the Homeric hymn not the Earth- 
goddess, 40 sq. ; the Yellow Demeter of the ripe corn at the threshing- 
floor, 41 sq. ; the Green Demeter of the green corn, 42 ; the cereals 
called Demeter's fruits, 42 sq. ; tradition of human life before Demeter's 
time, 43 ; corn and poppies as symbols of Demeter, 43 sq. ; Persephone 
portrayed as young corn sprouting from the ground, 44 ; Demeter 
invoked by Greek farmers before the autumnal sowing, 45 sq. ; festival of 
mourning for the descent of Persephone at the autumnal sowing, 46 ; 

xi 



CONTENTS 

thank-offerings of ripe grain presented to Demeter by Greek farmers after 
the harvest, 46-48 ; date of the offerings, 47 sq. ; the first-fruits offered 
to Demeter in autumn, because that is the season of ploughing and 
sowing, 48 sq. ; the festival of the Proerosia ("Before the Ploughing") 
held at Eleusis in honour of Demeter, 50-53 ; public offerings of the 
first-fruits of the barley and wheat to Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis, 
53-56 ; the Athenians generally believed to have spread the knowledge of 
Demeter's gift of the corn among mankind, 56-58 ; the Sicilians associ- 
ated Demeter with the seed-corn and Persephone with the ripe ears, 
58 sq, ; difficulty of distinguishing between the two corn -goddesses, 59 ; 
the time of year when the first-fruits were offered to Demeter and Per- 
sephone at Eleusis unknown, 59 sq. ; Festival of the Threshing-floor 
(Haloa) at Eleusis, 60-63 5 the Green Festival and the Festival of the 
Cornstalks at Eleusis, 63 ; epithets of Demeter referring to the corn, 63 
sq. ; ancient and modern belief that the corn-crops depend on possession 
of an image of Demeter, 64 sq. ; sacred marriage of Zeus and Demeter 
at Eleusis, 65-70 ; the Eleusinian games distinct from the Eleusinian 
mysteries, 70 ; the Eleusinian games sacred to Demeter and Persephone, 
71 ; Triptolemus the mythical hero of the corn, 72 sq. ; prizes of barley 
given to victors in the Eleusinian games, 73 sq. ; the Ancestral Contest 
in the games perhaps a competition between reapers, 74 sq. ; games at 
harvest festivals in modern Europe, 75-77 ; date of the Eleusinian games 
uncertain, 77 ; quadriennial and biennial period of the games, 77 sq. ; the 
mysteries probably older than the games, 78 sq. ; the quadriennial period 
of many of the great games of Greece based on the old octennial cycle, 
79-82 ; the motive for instituting the eight years' cycle was religious, 
82-84 ; the quadriennial and biennial periods of the Greek games prob^ 
ably obtained by successive bisections of the octennial cycle, 84-87 ; 
application of these conclusions to the Eleusinian games, 87 sq. ; Varro 
on the rites of Eleusis, 88 ; the resemblance between the artistic types of 
Demeter and Persephone is in favour of their substantial identity as 
goddesses of the corn, 88-90 ; as goddesses of the corn Demeter and 
Persephone came to be associated with the ideas of death and resurrection, 
90 sq. 



Chapter III. — Magical Significance of 
i Games in Primitive Agriculture . Pp. 92-112 

Games played as magical ceremonies to promote the growth of the crops, 92 ; 
\ the Kayans of Central Borneo, a primitive agricultural people, whose 

religion is coloured by their agriculture, 92 sq. ; their ceremonies and 
taboos at sowing, 93 sq. ; their games and masquerades at sowing, 94-96 ; 
the Kayan New Year festival, 96 sq. ; Dr. Nieuwenhuis on the serious 
religious significance of the Kayan games, 97-99 ; the Kai, an agricul- 
tural people of German New Guinea, 99 sq. ; superstitious practices 
observed by the Kai for the good of the crops, 100 sq. ; games played 
and stories told by the Kai in order to promote the growth of the tare 



CONTENTS xiii 

and yams, 101-104; tales told by the Yabim as spells to produce 
abundant crops, 104 sq. ; narrative spells and imperative spells, 105 sq. ; 
use of the bull-roarer to quicken the fruits of the earth, 106 sq. ; swinging 
as an agricultural charm, 107 ; analogy of the Kayans to the early Greeks, 
107 sq. ; the Sacred Ploughing at Eleusis, 108 sq. ; the connexion of the 
Eleusinian games with agriculture confirmed by modern analogies, iioj^.; 
the sacred drama of the Eleusinian mysteries compared to the masked 
dances of agricultural savages, 1 1 1 sq. 



Chapter IV. — Woman's Part in Primitive 

Agriculture . . . . Pp. 113-130 

personification of the corn as feminine sometimes explained by woman's part 
in primitive agriculture, 113 ; in many savage tribes women hoe and sow 
the ground, 113; agricultural work done by women in Africa, 1 13-120, 
in South America, 120-122, in India, New Guinea, and New Britain, 
122 sq. ; division of agricultural work between men and women in the 
Indian Archipelago, 124 ; among savages in the hunting stage women 
collect the edible seeds and roots, as among the Californian Indians and 
the aborigines of Australia, 124-128; agriculture perhaps originated in 
the digging for wild fruits, 128 sq. ; the discovery of agriculture probably 
due to women, 129 ; women as agricultural labourers among the Aryans 
of Europe, 129 ; Greek conception of the Corn Goddess probably due to 
a simple personification of the corn, 1 29 sq. 

Chapter V. — The Corn-mother and the 

Corn-maiden in Northern Europe Pp. 1 31-170 

Etymology of Demeter's name, 131 ; barley her original gi'ain, 131 sq. ; the 
Corn-mother among the Germans and Slavs, 133 sq. ; the Corn-mother 
in the last sheaf, 1 33-1 35 ; the Harvest-mother, the Great Mother or the 
Grandmother in the last sheaf, 135 sq. ; the Old Woman or the Old Man 
in the last sheaf, 136-138 ; identification of the harvester with the corn- 
spirit, 138 sq. ; the last sheaf made unusually large and heavy, 139 sq. ; 
the Carline and the Maiden in Scotland, 140; the Old Wife {Cailleach') 
at harvest in the Highlands of Scotland, 140-142 ; the Hag (wrach) in 
Pembrokeshire, 142-144 ; the Carley at harvest in Antrim, 144; the Old 
Woman [Babd) at harvest among the Slavs and Lithuanians, 144 sq. ; 
the Corn-queen and Harvest-queen in Russia, Bulgaria, Austria, and 
England, 146 sq. ; the corn-spirit as the Old Woman or Old Man at 
threshing, 147-150; the corn-spirit as a child at harvest, 150 sq. ; the 
last corn cut called the mell, the kirn, or the churn in various parts of 
England, Scotland, and Ireland, 151-155 ; the last corn cut called the 
Maiden in the Highlands of Scotland, 155-158; the cutting of the last 
corn, called the clyack sheaf, in Aberdeenshire, 158-162 ; the corn-spirit 
as a bride or as bride and bridegroom, 162-164; the corn-spirit in the 



CONTENTS 

double form of the Old Wife and the Maiden simultaneously at harvest in 
the Highlands of Scotland, 164-167 ; analogy of the harvest customs to 
the spring customs of Europe, id"] sq. ; the spring and harvest customs 
of Europe are parts of a primitive heathen ritual, 168 ; marks of a primi- 
tive ritual which are to be found in these customs, 169 s//. 



Chapter VI. — The Corn-mother in many 

Lands Pp. 17 1-2 13 

§1. T/ie Corn-mother in America, pp. 171-177. — The Maize-mother, the 

Quinoa-niother, the Coca-mother, and the Potato-mother among the 

/Peruvian Indians, 171-174; the Maize-goddess and the Maize-god of 

/the Mexicans, 174-177; the Corn-mother among the North American 

•s^ Indians, 177. 

§ 2. The Mother-cotton in the Ptmjaiib, p. 178. 

§ 3. The Barley Bride among the Berbers, pp. 178-180. 

§ 4. The Rice-mother in the East Indies, pp. 180-204. — The Indonesian 
ritual of the rice based on a belief that the rice is animated by a 
soul, 180-183 ; rice treated by the Indonesians as if it were a 
woman, 183 sq. ; the Kayans of Borneo, their treatment of the soul 
of the rice, 184-186 ; masquerade performed by the Kayans before 
sowing, 186 sq. ; comparison of the Kayan masquerade with the Eleu- 
sinian drama, 187 sq. ; securing the soul of the rice among the Dyaks of 
Northern Borneo, 188 sq. ; recalling the soul of the rice in Burma, 
189-191 ; the Rice-mother among the Minangkabauers of Sumatra, 191 
sq. ; the Rice-mother among the Tomori of Celebes, 193 ; special words 
used at reaping among the Tomori, 193 ; riddles and stories in connexion 
with the rice, 194 ; the Rice-mother among the Toradjas of Celebes, 194 
sq. ; the rice personified as a young woman among the Bataks of Sumatra, 
196 ; the King of the Rice in Mandeling, 197 ; the Rice-mother and the 
Rice-child at harvest in the Malay Peninsula, 197-199; the Rice-bride 
and the Rice-bridegroom at harvest in Java, 199-201 ; the rice-spirit as 
husband and wife in Bali and Lombok, 201-203 '■> ^^^ Father and Mother 
of the Rice among the Szis of Burma, 203 sq. 

§ 5. The Spirit of the Corn embodied in Human Beings, pp. 204-207. — Old 
women as representatives of the Corn-goddess among the Mandans and 
Minnitarees, 204-206 ; Miami myth of the corn-spirit in the form of an 
old man, 206 sq. 

§ 6'. The Double Persotiification of the Corn as Mother and Daughter, pp. 
207-213. — Analogy of Demeter and Persephone to the Corn-mother, the 
^ Harvest-maiden, and similar figures in the harvest customs of modern 

\i European peasantry, 207-209; Demeter perhaps the ripe crop and Per- 

sephone the seed-corn, 209 sq. ; or the Greek mythical conception of the 



CONTENTS XV 

corn may have been duplicated when the original conception became 
purely anthropomorphic, 211-213. 



Chapter VII. — Lityerses . . Pp. 214-269 

§ I. Songs of the Corn Reapers, pp. 214-216. — -Popular harvest and vintage 
customs in ancient Egypt, Syria, and Phrygia, 214 sq. ; Maneros, a 
plaintive song of Egyptian reapers, 2\^ sq. ; Linus or Ailinus, a plaintive 
song of Phoenician vintagers, 216 ; Bormus, a plaintive song of Marian- 
dynian reapers in Bithynia, 216. 

§ 2. Killing the Corn-spirit, pp. 216-236. — The legend of Lityerses, a reflection 
of a Phrygian custom of killing strangers at harvest as embodiments of 
the corn-spirit, 2 1 6-2 1 8 ; contests among harvesters in order not to be 
last at their work, 218-220 ; custom of wrapping up in corn-stalks the 
last reaper, binder, or thresher, 220-222 ; the corn-spirit, driven out of 
the last corn, lives in the barn through the winter, 222 ; similar ideas as 
to the last corn in India, 222 sq. ; the corn-spirit supposed to be killed at 
reaping or threshing, 223-225 ; the corn-spirit represented by a stranger 
or visitor to the harvest-field, 225-227 ; ceremonies of the Tarahumare 
Indians at hoeing, ploughing, and harvest, 227-229 ; pretence made by 
reapers of killing some one with their scythes, 229 sq. ; pretence made by 
threshers of choking some one with their flails, 230 ; custom observed at 
the madder-harvest in Zealand, 23 1 ; the spirit of the corn conceived 
as poor and robbed by the reapers, 231 sq. ; some of the corn left on the 
harvest-field for the corn-spirit, 232-234 ; little fields or gardens cultivated 
for spirits or gods, 234 ; hence perhaps the dedication of sacred lands and 
first-fruits to gods and spirits, 234 sq. ; passing strangers treated as the 
spirit of the madder-root, 235 sq. ; the killing of the personal representa- 
tive of the corn-spirit, 236. 

HiDiian Sacrifices for the Crops, pp. 236-251. — Human sacrifices for the 
crops in South and Central America, 236-238 ; human sacrifices for the 
crops among the Pawnees, 238 sq. ; human sacrifices for the crops in 
frica, 239 sq. ; human sacrifices for the crops in the Philippines, 240 
hq. ; human sacrifices for the crops among the Wild Wa of Burma, 
241-243 ; human sacrifices for the crops among the Shans of Indo-China 
and the Nagas and other tribes of India, 243-245 ; human sacrifices for 
the crops among the Khonds, 245-249 ; in these Khond sacrifices the 
victims appear to have been regarded as divine, 249-251 ; traces of the 
identification of the human victim with the god in other sacrifices, 251. 

§ 4. The Corn-spirit slai7i in his Hwnan Representatives, pp. 251-269. — Analogy 
of these barbarous rites to the harvest customs of Europe, 251 sq. ; 
human representative of the corn-spirit slain on the harvest-field, 252 sq. ; 
the victim who represented the corn-spirit may have been a passing 
stranger or the reaper, binder, or thresher of the last corn, 253 sq. ; 
perhaps the victim annually sacrificed in the character of the corn-spirit 
may have been the king himself, 254 sq. ; relation of Lityerses to Attis, 





CONTENTS 

255 sq. ; human representatives of both annually slain, 256 sq. ; similarity 
of the Bithynian Bormus to the Phrygian Attis, 257 ; the Phoenician 
Linus identified with Adonis, who may have been annually represented 
by a human victim, 258 sq. ; the corn-spirit in Egypt (Osiris) annually 
represented by a human victim, 259-261 ; assimilation of human victims 
to the corn which they represent, 261 sq. ; remains of victims scattered 
over the fields to fertilise them, 262 sq. ; the black and green Osiris like 
the black and green Demeter, 263 ; the key to the mysteries of Osiris 
furnished by the lamentations of the reapers for the annual death of the 
corn-spirit, 263 sq. ; "crying the Neck" at harvest in Devonshire, 264- 
267; cutting "the Neck" in Pembrokeshire and Shropshire, 267 sq. ; 
why the last corn is called "the Neck," 268; cries of the reapers in 
Germany, 269. 



Chapter VIII. — The Corn -spirit as an 

Animal Pp. 270-305 

§ I. Animal Ejnbodiments of the Corn-spirit, pp. 270 sq. — The corn-spirit in 
the form of an animal supposed to be present in the last corn cut or 
'threshed, and to be caught or killed by the reaper or thresher, 270 sq. 



I 



/ 



§ 2. The Corn-spirit as a Wolf or a Dog, pp. 271-275. — The corn-spirit as a 
wolf or a dog supposed to run through the corn, 271 sq. ; the corn-spirit 
as a dog at reaping and threshing, 272 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a wolf at 
reaping, 273 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a wolf driven out or killed at thresh- 
ing, 274 sq. ; the corn-wolf at harvest in France, 275 ; the corn-wolf 
killed on the harvest-field, 275 ; the corn-wolf at midwinter, 275. 

§ 3. The Corn-spirit as a Cock, pp. 276-278. — The corn-spirit as a cock sitting 
in the corn, 276 ; the corn-spirit as a cock at harvest, 276 sq. ; the corn- 
spirit killed in the form of a live cock, 277 sq. 

§ 4. The Corn-spirit as a Hare, pp. 279 sq. — The corn-spirit as a hare at reap- 
ing, 279 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a hare killed in the last corn cut, 280. 

§ 5. The Corn-spirit as a Cat, pp. 280 sq. — The corn-spirit as a cat sitting in 
the corn, 280 ; the corn-spirit as a cat at reaping and threshing, 280 sq.'y 
the corn-spirit as a cat killed at reaping and threshing, 281. 

§ 6. The Corn-spirit as a Goat, pp. 281-288. — The corn-spirit in the form of a 
goat running through the corn or sitting in it, 281 sq. ; the corn-goat at 
reaping and binding the corn, 282 sq. ; the corn-spirit as the Cripple 
Goat in Skye, 283 sq. ; the corn-spirit killed as a goat on the harvest- 
field, 285 sq. ; the corn-goat supposed to lurk among the corn in the barn 
till he is expelled by the flail at threshing, 286 ; the corn-goat passed on 
to a neighbour who has not finished his threshing, 286 sq. ; the corn-goat 
killed at threshing, 287 ; old Prussian custom of killing a goat at sowing^ 
288. 



CONTENTS xvii 

§ 7. The Corfi-spirit as a Bull, Cow, or Ox, pp. 288-292. — The corn-spirit in 
the form of a bull running through the corn or lying in it, 288 ; the corn- 
spirit as a bull, ox, or cow at harvest, 288-290 ; the corn-spirit in the 
form of a bull or ox killed at the close of the reaping, 290 ; the corn- 
spirit as a bull or cow at threshing, 290 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a bull 
supposed to be killed at threshing, 291 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a calf at 
harvest or in spring, 292. 

§ 8. The Corn-spirit as a Horse or Mare, pp. 292-294. — The corn-spirit as a 
horse running through the corn, 292 ; "crying the Mare" in Hertford- 
shire and Shropshire, 292-294 ; the corn-spirit as a horse in France, 294. 

§ 9. The Corn-spirit as a Bird, pp. 295 sq. — The corn-spirit as a quail, 295 ; 
the rice-spirit as a blue bird, 295 sq. ; the rice-spirit as a quail, 296. 

§ 10. The Corn-spirit as a Fox, pp. 296 sq. — The corn-spirit in the form of a 
fox running through the corn or sitting in it, 296 ; the corn-spirit as a 
fox at reaping the last corn, 296 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a fox at threshing, 
297 ; the Japanese rice-god associated with the fox, 297. 

§ 1 1. The Corn-spirit as a Pig, pp. 298-303. — The corn-spirit as a boar rushing 
through the corn, 298 ; the corn-spirit as a boar or sow at reaping, 298 ; 
the corn-spirit as a sow at threshing, 298 sq. ; the corn-spirit as a pig 
at sowing, 300 ; the corn-spirit embodied in the Yule or Christmas Boar 
of Scandinavia and Esthonia, 300-303. 

§ 12. On the Animal Embodiments of the Corn-spirit, pp. 303-305. — Sacra- 
mental character of the harvest-supper, 303 ; parallelism between the 
conceptions of the corn-spirit in human and animal forms, 303 sq. ; 
suggested reason for the many animal forms supposed to be assumed by 
the corn-spirit, 304 sq. 



Note. — The Pleiades in Primitive Calendars Pp. 307-319 

Importance of the Pleiades in primitive calendars, 307 ; attention paid to the 
Pleiades by the Australian aborigines, 307 sq., by the Indians of Paraguay 
_ ai(d Brazil, 308-310, by the Indians of Peru and Mexico, 310 sq., by the 
\/North American Indians, 311 sq., by the Polynesians, 312 sq., by the 
Melanesians, 313, by the natives of New Guinea and the Indian Archi- 
pelago, 313-315, by the natives of Africa, 315-317, by the Greeks and 
Romans, 318 ; the association of the Pleiades with agriculture apparently 
based on the coincidence of their rising or setting with the commencement 
of the rainy season, 318 sq. 



CHAPTER I 

DIONYSUS 

In the preceding part of this work we saw that in anti- Death and 
quity the civilised nations of western Asia and Egypt ^^^"'■'"^'=" 
pictured to themselves the changes of the seasons, and Oriental 
particularly the annual growth and decay of vegetation, ve^gt^tion 
as episodes in the life of gods, whose mournful death- 
and happy resurrection they celebrated with dramatic 
rites of alternate lamentation and rejoicing. But if the 
celebration was in form dramatic, it was in substance 
magical ; that is to say, it was intended, on the principles 
of sympathetic magic, to ensure the vernal regeneration of 
plants and the multiplication of animals, which had seemed 
to be menaced by the inroads of winter. In the ancient 
world, however, such ideas and such rites were by no means 
confined to the Oriental peoples of Babylon and Syria, 
of Phrygia and Egypt ; they were not a product peculiar to 
' the religious mysticism of the dreamy East, but were shared 
by the races of livelier fancy and more mercurial tempera- 
ment who inhabited the shores and islands of the Aegean. 
We need not, with some enquirers in ancient and modern 
times, suppose that these Western peoples borrowed from 
the older civilisation of the Orient the conception of the 
Dying and Reviving God, together with the solemn ritual. The Dying 
in which that conception was dramatically set forth before -^^^ g^^ ^f 
the eyes of the worshippers. More probably the resemblance vegetation 

, . , , , . , . , , ,. . c ^^ ancient 

which may be traced m this respect between the religions oi Greece. 
the East and the West is no more than what we commonly, 
though incorrectly, call a fortuitous coincidence, the effect of 

PT. V. VOL. I S B 



Dionysus, 
the god of 
the vine, 
originally 
a Thracian 
deity. 



2 DIONYSUS CHAP. 

similar causes acting alike on the similar constitution of the 
human mind in different countries and under different skies. 
The Greek had no need to journey into far countries to learn 
the vicissitudes of the seasons, to mark the fleeting beauty 
of the damask rose, the transient glory of the golden corn, i 
the passing splendour of the purple grapes. Year by year I 
in his own beautiful land he beheld, with natural regret, 
the bright pomp of summer fading into the gloom and 
stagnation of winter, and year by year he hailed with natural 
delight the outburst of fresh life in spring. Accustomed 
to personify the forces of nature, to tinge her cold abstrac- 
tions with the warm hues of imagination, to clothe her 
naked realities with the gorgeous drapery of a mythic fancy, 
he fashioned for himself a train of gods and goddesses, of 
spirits and elves, out of the shifting panorama of the seasons, 
and followed the annual fluctuations of their fortunes with 
alternate emotions of cheerfulness and dejection, of gladness 
and sorrow, which found their natural expression in alternate 
rites of rejoicing and lamentation, of revelry and mourning. 
A consideration of some of the Greek divinities who thus 
died and rose again from the dead may furnish us with a 
series of companion pictures to set side by side with 
the sad figures of Adonis, Attis, and Osiris. We begin with 
Dionysus. 

The god Dionysus or Bacchus is best known to us as a 
personification of the vine and of the exhilaration produced 
by the juice of the grape.^ His ecstatic worship, characterised 
by wild dances, thrilling music, and tipsy excess, appears to 



^ On Dionysus in general, see L. 
Preller, Griechische Mythologie^^ i. 
659 sqq. ; Fr. Lenormant, s.v. 
" Bacchus," in Daremberg and Saglio's 
Dictioimaire des AntiquitSs Grecqites 
et Romaines, i. 591 ^ll- % Voigt and 
Thraemer, s.v. " Dionysus," in W. H. 
Roscher's Lexikon der griech. u. rom. 
Mythologie, i. 1029 sqq. ; E. Rohde, 
Psyche"^ (Tubingen and Leipsic, 1903), 
ii. I sqq. ; Miss J. E. Harrison, Prolego- 
mena to the Study of Greek Religion, 
Second Edition (Cambridge, 1908), 
pp. 363^^(7.; Kern, s.v. "Dionysus," 
in Pauly-Wissowa's Real-Encydopddie 
der classischen Alfertumswissenscha/t, 



V. 1010 sqq.; M. P. Nilsson, Griechische 
Feste von religidser Bedeutung (Leipsic, 
1906), pp. 25S sqq. ; L. R. Farnell, 
The Cults of the Greek States, v. 
(Oxford, 1909) pp. 85 sqq. The 
epithet Bromios bestowed on Diony- 
sus, and his identification with 
the Thracian and Phrygian deity 
Sabazius, have been adduced as evi- 
dence that Dionysus was a god of beer 
or of other cereal intoxicants before 
he became a god of wine. See W. 
Headlam, in Classical Review, xv, 
(1901) p. 23; Miss J. E. Harrison, 
Prolegomena to the Study of Greek 
Religion, pp. 414-426. 



I DIONYSUS 3 

have originated among the rude tribes of Thrace, who were 
notoriously addicted to drunkenness.^ Its mystic doctrines 
and extravagant rites were essentially foreign to the clear 
intelligence and sober temperament of the Greek race. Yet 
appealing as it did to that love of mystery and that prone- 
ness to revert to savagery which seem to be innate in most 
men, the religion spread like wildfire through Greece until 
the god whom Homer hardly deigned to notice had become 
the most popular figure of the pantheon. The resemblance 
which his story and his ceremonies present to those of 
Osiris have led some enquirers both in ancient and modern 
times to hold that Dionysus was merely a disguised Osiris, 
imported directly from Egypt into Greece.^ But the great 
preponderance of evidence points to his Thracian origin, 
and the similarity of the two worships is sufficiently 
explained by the similarity of the ideas and customs on 
which they were founded. 

While the vine with its clusters was the most character- Dionysus 
istic manifestation of Dionysus, he was also a god of trees * ^"'^ °' 

•' ' ° trees, es- 

in general. Thus we are told that almost all the Greeks pedaiiy of 
sacrificed to "Dionysus of the tree." ^ In Boeotia one of ^™''"*'^^'- 
his titles was " Dionysus in the tree." * His image was 
often merely an upright post, without arms, but draped in 
a mantle, with a bearded mask to represent the head, and 
with leafy boughs projecting from the head or body to shew 
the nature of the deity.^ On a vase his rude eff[gy is 
depicted appearing out of a low tree or bush.*^ At Magnesia 
on the Maeander an image of Dionysus is said to have 
been found in a plane-tree, which had been broken by the 

^ Plato, Laws, i. p. 637 E ; Thee- PAcad^mie des Inscriptions et Belles- 

pompus, cited by Athenaeus, x. 60, lettres, xxxvii.). 

p. 442 E F ; Suidas, s.v. Ka.ra.<jKeM^eiv ; 3 piutarch, Quaest. Conviv. v. 3 : 

compare Xenophon, Anabasis, vii. 3. Aioj-wy 5^ Sevdpirri iravTes, u)s ^ttos 

3.'.. For the evidence of the Thracian d-welv, "EXXi^ves dvovaiv. 

origin of Dionysus, see the writers 4 Hesychius, 5.t/. ■'E.'5e:'5pos. 
cited in the preceding note, especially 

Dr. L. R. Farnell, op. cit. v. 85 s^^. ^ See the pictures of his images. 

Compare W. Ridgeway, T/ie Origin drawn from ancient vases, in C. 

0/ Tragedy (Cambridge, 19 10), pp. Botticher's Baumkiiltus der Hellenen 

\osqq^ ^ / ^f (Berlin, 1856), plates 42, 43. 43 A, 

2 Herodotus, ii. 49 ; Diodorus 43 b, 44 ; Daremberg et Saglio, Die 

Siculus, i. 97. 4 ; P. Foucart, Le Culte Honnaire des Atitiquith Grecques et 

de Dionyse en Attiqiie (Paris, 1904), Romaines,\. 361, 626^^. 

pp. 9 sqq., 159 sqq. (M^moires de ^ Daremberg et Saglio, o/. «V. i. 626. 



4 DTOiXVSUS CHAP. 

wind.^ He was the patron of cultivated trees ; '^ prayers were 
offered to him that he would make the trees grow ; ^ and he 
was especially honoured by husbandmen, chiefly fruit-growers, 
who set up an image of him, in the shape of a natural tree- 
stump, in their orchards.* He was said to have discovered 
all tree-fruits, amongst which apples and figs are particularly 
mentioned ; ^ and he was referred to as " well-fruited," 
" he of the green fruit," and " making the fruit to grow." ^ 
One of his titles was " teeming " or " bursting " (as of sap I 
or blossoms) ; '^ and there was a Flowery Dionysus in Attica 
and at Patrae in Achaia.^ The Athenians sacrificed to him 
for the prosperity of the fruits of the land.^ Amongst the 
trees particularly sacred to him, in addition to the vine, 
was the pine-tree.^*^ The Delphic oracle commanded the 
Corinthians to worship a particular pine-tree " equally with 
the god," so they made two images of Dionysus out of it, 
with red faces and gilt bodies.^^ In art a wand, tipped with 
a pine-cone, is commonly carried by the god or his 
worshippers.^^ Again, the ivy and the fig-tree were especially 
associated with him. In the Attic township of Acharnae 
there was a Dionysus Ivy;^^ at Lacedaemon there was a 
Fig Dionysus ; and in Naxos, where figs were called ineilicha, 
there was a Dionysus Meilichios, the face of whose image 
was made of fig-wood.^* ^ 

1 P. Wendland und O. Kern, However, the words may equally well 

Beitrdge zur Geschichte dei- gricchischen refer to the cereal crops. 
Philosophie und Religion (Berlin, lo Plutarch, Qtiaest. Conviv. v. 3. 

1895) pp. 79 sqq. ; Ch. Michel, Re- n Pausanias, ii. 2. 6 sq. Pausanias 

rue:/ d^ Inscriptions Grecques (Brussels, joes not mention the kind of tree ; 

1900), No. 856. but from Euripides, Bacchae, 1064 

-^ Qoxx,^\.^^,TheologtaeGraecaeCom. ^^^_^ ^^^ Philostratus, Imag. i. 17 

pendium, 30. ^ ^ ^, ^ ^ . (i8), we may infer that it was a pine, 

3 Pmdar, quoted by Plutarch, his though Theocritus (xxvi. 11) speaks of 

ctOsins,T,S- _ it as a mastich-tree. i 

* Maximus lyrms, Dissertat. vni. 1. lo ,» ., t^t- , ^ , , , 

5 Athenaeus, iii. chs. 14 and 23, , ' MUller-Wieseler, Denkmdler der 
pp 78 C 82 D '^^^^" Kunst, 11. pll. xxxu. sqq. ; A. 

6 OrpMca, Hymn 1. 4. liii. 8. Baumeister, Denkmdler des klassischen 

7 Aelian, Var. Hist. iii. 41 ; Alter turns, 1. figures 489, 491, 492, 
Hesychius, s.v. *X^4s]. Compare 495. Compare F. Lenormant, m 
Plutarch, Quaest. Conviv. v. 8. 3. Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire des 

8 Pausanias, i. 31- 4 ; id. vii. 21. ^ntiqmtjs Grecques et Romaines, 1. 
g 023; Ch. t. Lobeck, Aglaophanius 

■9 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- (Konigsberg, 1829), p. 700. 
tionum Gi-ciecarum^^ No. 636, vol. Pausanias, i. 31. 6. 

ii. p. 435, rCiv Kapwwv tQv ev rrj x^pa. '* Athenaeus, iii. 14, p. 78 C. 



I DIONYSUS 5 

Further, there are indications, few but significant, that Dionysus 
Dionysus was conceived as a deity of agriculture and the ^^ ^ sod of 

TT- r !• 1/-1- agriculture 

corn. He is spoken of as himself doing the work of a and the 
husbandman : ^ he is reported to have been the first to yoke '^°'^"' 
oxen to the plough, which before had been dragged by hand 
alone ; and some people found in this tradition the clue to 
the bovine shape in which, as we shall see, the god was 
often supposed to present himself to his worshippers. Thus 
guiding the ploughshare and scattering the seed as he went, 
Dionysus is said to have eased the labour of the husband- 
man.2 Further, we are told that in the land of the Bisaltae, 
a Thracian tribe, there was a great and fair sanctuary 
of Dionysus, where at his festival a bright light shone 
forth at night as a token of an abundant harvest vouch- 
safed by the deity ; but if the crops were to fail that year, 
the mystic light was not seen, darkness brooded over the 
sanctuary as at other times.^ Moreover, among the emblems The win- 
of Dionysus was the winnowing-fan, that is the large open "°^^'"g-fan 

■' & » ^ i:^ as an em- 

shovel-shaped basket, which down to modern times has been biem of 
used by farmers to separate the grain from the chaff by '^"y^"^' 
tossing the corn in the air. This simple agricultural instru- 
ment figured in the mystic rites of Dionysus ; indeed the 
god is traditionally said to have been placed at birth in a 
winnowing-fan as in a cradle : in art he is represented as an 
infant so cradled ; and from these traditions and representa- -, 
tions he derived the epithet of Liknites^ that is, " He of the 
Winnowing-fan." * 

At first sight this symbolism might be explained Use of the 
very simply and naturally by supposing that the divine ^'"fa^jo 

1 Himerius, Orat. i. lO, Aiovvcros and admirably interpreted by Miss J. ^"^^ 

yewpyeZ E. Harrison in her article " Mystica 

^ Diodorus Siculus, iii. 64. I -3, iv. Vannus lacchi," Journal of Hellenic 

4. I sq. On the agricultural aspect of Studies, xxiii. (1903) pp. 292-324. 

Dionysus, see L. R. Farnell, The Cults Compare her Prolegomena to the Study 

of the Greek States, v. (Oxford, 1909) of Greek Religion- (Cambridge, 1908), 

pp. 123 sg. pp. 517 sqq. I must refer the reader 

^ [Aristotle,] Mirah. Auscult. 122 to these works for full details on the 

(p. 842 A, ed. Im. Bekker, Berlin subject. In the passage of Servius 

edition). referred to the reading is somewhat 

* Servius on Virgil, Georg. i. 166; uncertain; in his critical edition G. 
Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35. The Thilo reads Xt/f/i^jTr^c and Xt(f/i6s instead 
literary and monumental evidence as of the usual ^ikvittiv and TiiKfdv. But 
to the winnowing-fan in the myth and the variation does not affect the mean- 
ritual of Dionysus has been collected ing. 



6 DIONYSUS CHAP. 

infant cradled in the winnowing-fan was identified with 
the corn which it is the function of the instrument to 
winnow and sift. Yet against this identification it may be 
urged with reason that the use of a winnowing-fan as a 
cradle was not peculiar to Dionysus ; it was a regular 
practice with the ancient Greeks to place their infants in 
winnowing-fans as an omen of wealth and fertility for the 
future life of the children.^ Customs of the same sort have 
been observed, apparently for similar reasons, by other 
peoples in other lands. For example, in Java it is or used 
to be customary to place every child at birth in a bamboo 
basket like the sieve or winnowing-basket which Javanese 
farmers use for separating the rice from the chafif.^ It is 
the midwife who places the child in the basket, and as she 
does so she suddenly knocks with the palms of both hands 
on the basket in order that the child may not be timid and 
fearful. Then she addresses the child thus : " Cry not, for 
Njaf-among and Kaki-among " (two spirits) " are watching 
over you." Next she addresses these two spirits, saying, 
" Bring not your grandchild to the road, lest he be trampled 
by a horse ; bring him not to the bank of the river, lest he 
fall into the river." The object of the ceremony is said to 
be that these two spirits should always and everywhere guard 
the child.^ On the first anniversary of a child's birthday the 
Chinese of Foo-Chow set the little one in a large bamboo 
sieve, such as farmers employ in winnowing grain, and in the 
sieve they place along with the child a variety of articles, 
such as fruits, gold or silver ornaments, a set of money-scales, 
books, a pencil, pen, ink, paper, and so on, and they draw 
omens of the child's future career from the object which it 
first handles and plays with. Thus, if the infant first grasps 
the money-scale, he will be wealthy ; if he seizes on a book, 
he will be learned, and so forth.^ In the Bilaspore district 

1 'E:* 7ap XeiKvois rb Tra\aLbi> KareKol- Eerste Deel (1843), p. 695 ; P. J. Veth, 

lu^ov TO. ^pi(pi) TrXovTov Kal Kapwoiis Java (Haarlem, 1875-1884), i. 639. 

olwift-^bfievoL, Scholiast on Callimachus, ^ C. Poensen, " lets over de kleed- 

i. 4S {Ca//tmac^ea, edidit O. Schneider, ing der Javanen," Mededeelmgen van 

Leipsic, 1870-1873, vol. i. p. 109). wege het Nederlaiidsche Zendeling- 

^ T. S. Raffles, History of Java genootschap, xx. (1876) pp. 279 sq. 

(London, 1817), i. 323 ; C. F. Winter, * Rev. J. Doolittle, Social Life of the 

"Instellingen,Gewoontenen Gebruiken Chinese, edited and revised by the 

der Javanen te Soerakarta," Tijdschrift Rev. Paxton Hood (London, 1868), 

voor Neerlands Indie, Vijfde Jaargang, pp. 90 sq. 



I DIONYSUS 7 

of India it is customary for well-to-do people to place a new- 
born infant in a winnowing-fan filled with rice and after- 
wards to give the grain to the nurse in attendance.^ In 
Upper Egypt a newly-born babe is immediately laid upon a 
corn-sieve and corn is scattered around it ; moreover, on the 
seventh day after birth the infant is carried on a sieve through 
the whole house, while the midwife scatters wheat, barle}^, 
pease and salt. The intention of these ceremonies is The win- 
said to be to avert evil spirits from the child,^ and a like "°w'"g-fan 

*^ ' sometimes 

motive is assigned by other peoples for the practice of intended to 
placing newborn infants in a winnowing-basket or corn-sieve. sDh-uT'^ 
For example, in the Punjaub, when several children of a children. 
family have died in succession, a new baby will sometimes 
be put at birth into an old winnowing-basket {chhaj) along 
with the sweepings of the house, and so dragged out into 
the yard ; such a child may, like Dionysus, in after life be 
known by the name of Winnowing-basket {Ch/iajju) or 
Dragged {Ghasitd)? The object of treating the child in this 
way seems to be to save its life by deceiving the spirits, who 
are supposed to have carried off its elder brothers and sisters ; 
these malevolent beings are on the look-out for the new baby, 
but they will never think of raking for it in the dust-bin, 
that being the last place where they would expect to find 
the hope of the family. The same may perhaps be the 
intention of a ceremony observed by the Gaolis of the 
Deccan. As soon as a child is born, it is bathed and then 
placed on a sieve for a few minutes. On the fifth day 
the sieve, with a lime and pan leaves on it, is removed 
outside the house and then, after the worship of Chetti 
has been performed, the sieve is thrown away on the 

^ Rev. E. M. Gordon, "Some Notes Names," Indian Antiquary, x. (1881) 

concerning the People of Mungell pp. 331 sq. Compare H. A. Rose, 

Tahsil, Bilaspur District,"y(7«r«a/^//^^ "Hindu Birth Observances in the 

Asiatic Society of Bengal, Ixxi., Part V\m)?Co,^' Journal of the Royal Anthropo- 

iii. (Calcutta, 1903) p. 74 ; id., Indian logical Institute, xxxvii. (1907) p. 234. 

Folk Tales (London, 1908), p. 41. See also Panjab Notes and Queries, 

2 n -u j^j ■ B!^ "^°'- "'• August 1886, § 768, pp. 

2 C. B. Klunzmger^z/^r aus jg^ . ..^^e winnowing fan in 

Oberdgypten {SiMiig^xi, 1S77), pp. 181, ^^ich a newly-born child is laid, is 

182 ; 7d., upper Egypt its People and ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^ f^^ ^^e worship 

Products (London, 1878), pp. 185, ^f Satwai. This makes it impure, and 

it is henceforward used only for the 

^ R. C. Temple, " Opprobrious house-sweepings." 



DIONYSUS 



Use of the 
winnow- 
ing-fan to 
avert evil 
from 
children 
ill India, 
Mada- 
gascar, and 
China. 



road.^ Again, the same notion of rescuing the child from 
dangerous spirits comes out very clearly in a similar 
custom observed by the natives of Laos, a province of 
Siam. These people " believe that an infant is the child, 
not of its parents, but of the spirits, and in this belief they 
go through the following formalities. As soon as an infant 
is born it is bathed and dressed, laid upon a rice-sieve, and 
placed — by the grandmother if present, if not, by the next 
near female relative — at the head of the stairs or of the 
ladder leading to the house. The person performing this 
duty calls out in a loud tone to the spirits to come and take 
the child away to-day, or for ever after to let it alone ; 
at the same moment she stamps violently on the floor to 
frighten the child, or give it a jerk, and make it cry. If it 
does not cry this is regarded as an evil omen. If, on the 
other hand, it follows the ordinary laws of nature and begins 
to exercise its vocal organs, it is supposed to have a happy 
and prosperous life before it. Sometimes the spirits do 
come and take the infant away, i.e. it dies before it is twenty- 
four hours old, but, to prevent such a calamity, strings are 
tied round its wrists on the first night after its birth, and 
if it sickens or is feeble the spirit-doctors are called in to 
prescribe certain offerings to be made to keep away the very 
spirits who, only a few hours previously, were ceremoniously 
called upon to come and carrj^ the child off. On the day 
after its birth the child is regarded as being the property no 
longer of the spirits, who could have taken it if they had 
wanted it, but of the parents, who forthwith sell it to some 
relation for a nominal sum — an eighth or a quarter of a 
rupee perhaps. This again is a further guarantee against 
molestation by the spirits, who apparently are regarded as 
honest folk that would not stoop to take what has been 
bought and paid for." ^ 

A like intention of averting evil in some shape from a 
child is assigned in other cases of the same custom. Thus 
in Travancore, " if an infant is observed to distort its limbs 
as if in pain, it is supposed to be under the pressure of some 
one who has stooped over it, to relieve which the mother 



1 Lieut.-Colonel Gunthorpe, "On 
the Ghosi or Gaddi Gaoh's of the Dec- 
can," Journal of the Anthropological 



Society of Bombay, i. 45. 

- C. Bock, Temples and Elephants 
(London, 1884), pp. 258 si/. 



I DIONYSUS 9 

places it with a nut-cracker on a winnowing fan and shakes 
it three or four times." ^ Again, among the Tanala people 
of Madagascar almost all children born in the unlucky month 
of Faosa are buried alive in the forest. But if the parents 
resolve to let the child live, they must call in the aid of a 
diviner, who performs a ceremony for averting the threatened 
ill-luck. The child is placed in a winnowing-fan along with 
certain herbs. Further, the diviner takes herbs of the same 
sort, a worn-out spade, and an axe, fastens them to the 
father's spear, and sets the spear up in the ground. Then 
the child is bathed in water which has been medicated with 
some of the same herbs. Finally the diviner says : " The 
worn-out spade to the grandchild ; may it (the child) not 
despoil its father, may it not despoil its mother, may it not 
despoil the children ; let it be good." This ceremony, we 
are told, " puts an end to the child's evil days, and the father 
gets the spear to put away all evil. The child then joins its 
father and mother ; its evil days are averted, and the water 
and the other things are buried, for they account them evil."^ 
Similarly the ancient Greeks used to bury, or throw into the 
sea, or deposit at cross-roads, the things that had been 
used in ceremonies of purification, no doubt because the 
things were supposed to be tainted by the evil which had 
been transferred to them in the rites.^ Another example of 
the use of a winnowing-fan in what may be called a purificatory 
ceremony is furnished by the practice of the Chinese of Foo- 
Chow. A lad who is suffering from small-pox is made to 
squat in a large winnowing sieve. On his head is placed a 
piece of red cloth, and on the cloth are laid some parched 
beans, which are then allowed to roll off. As the name for 
beans, pronounced in the local dialect, is identical with the 
common name for small-pox, and as moreover the scars left 
by the pustules are thought to resemble beans, it appears to 
be imagined that just as the beans roll off the boy's head, so 
will the pustules vanish from his body without leaving a 

1 S. Mateer, Native Life in Travan- Reprint of the First Foitr Ntimbers 
core (London, 1883), p. 213. (Antananarivo, 1885), pp. 226 sq. 

3 Pausanias, ii. 31. 8; K. F. Her- 

2 J. Richardson, "Tanala Customs, mann, Lehrbuch der gottesdieiistlichen 
Superstitions, and Beliefs," Antanana- Altertkiiiner der Griechen"^ [UQideXhtrg, 
rivo Annual and Madagascar Afagazine, 1858), pp. 132 sq., § 23, 25. 



DIONYSUS 



Karen 
ceremony 
of fanning 
away evils 
from 
children. 



Among the 
reasons for 
the use of 
the win- 
iiowing-fan 
in birth- 
rites may 
have been 
the wish 
to avert 
evils and 
to promote 
fertility and 
growth. 



trace behind.^ Thus the cure depends on the principle 
of homoeopathic magic. Perhaps on the same principle a 
winnowing-fan is employed in the ceremony from a notion 
that it will help to waft or fan away the disease like chaff 
from the grain. We may compare a purificatory ceremony 
observed by the Karens of Burma at the naming of a new- 
born child. Amongst these people "children are supposed 
to come into the world defiled, and unless that defilement is 
removed, they will be unfortunate, and unsuccessful in their 
undertakings. An Elder takes a thin splint of bamboo, 
and, tying a noose at one end, he fans it down the child's 
arm, saying : 

' Fan away ill luck, fan away ill success : 
Fan away inability, fan away unskilfulness : 
Fan away slow growth, fan away difficulty of growth : 
Fan away stunted?iess, fan away puniness : 
Fan away drowsiness, fa?t away stupidity : 
Fan away debasedness, fan away wretchedness : 
Fan away the whole completely.^ 

" The Elder now changes his motion and fans up the child's 
arm, saying : 

' Fan on power, fan on influence : 
Fan on the paddy bin, fan on the paddy barft : 
Fan on followers, fan on dependants : 
Fan on good things, fan on appropriate things.^ " * 

Thus in some of the foregoing instances the employment 
of the winnowing-fan may have been suggested by the proper 
use of the implement as a means of separating the corn from 
the chaff, the same operation being extended by analogy to 
rid men of evils of various sorts which would otherwise adhere 
to them like husks to the grain. It was in this way that 
the ancients explained the use of the winnowing-fan in the 
mysteries.^ But one motive, and perhaps the original one. 



* Rev. J. Doolittle, Social Life of the 
Chinese, edited and revised by the Rev. 
Paxton Hood (London, 1868), pp. 114 
sq. The beans used in the ceremony 
had previously been placed before an 
image of the goddess of small-pox. 

2 Rev. F. Mason, D.D., "Physical 
Character of the Karens," fourncd of 
the Asiatic Society of Bengal, New 



Series, No. cxxxi. (Calcutta, 
pp. 9 sq. 



1866), 



2 Servius on Virgil, Georg. i. 166 : 
" Et vannus lacchi . . . ATystica autem 
Bacchi ideo ait, quod Libert patris sacra 
ad piirgationem animae pertitubant : et 
sic homines ejus mysteriis purgabantur, 
sicut vannis frumenta purgantur.'' 



I DIONYSUS II 

for setting a newborn child in a winnowing-fan and surround- 
ing it with corn was probably the wish to communicate to 
the infant, on the principle of sympathetic magic, the fertility 
and especially the power of growth possessed by the grain. 
This was in substance the explanation which W. Mannhardt 
gave of the custom.^ He rightly insisted on the analogy 
which many peoples, and in particular the ancient Greeks, 
have traced between the sowing of seed and the begetting 
of children,^ and he confirmed his view of the function of 
the winnowing-fan in these ceremonies by aptly comparing 
a German custom of sowing barley or flax seed over weakly 
and stunted children in the belief that this will make them 
grow with the growth of the barley or the flax.^ An 
Esthonian mode of accomplishing the same object is to set 
the child in the middle of a plot of ground where a sower is 
sowing hemp and to leave the little one there till the sowing 
is finished ; after that they imagine that the child will shoot 
up in stature like the hemp which has just been sown/ 

With the foregoing evidence before us of a widespread useofthe 
custom of placing newborn children in winnowing-fans we wmnow- 

*■ ° '^ ing-fan in 

clearly cannot argue that Dionysus must necessarily have the rites of 
been a god of the corn because Greek tradition and Greek Dionysus. 
art represent him as an infant cradled in a winnowing-fan. 
The argument would prove too much, for it would apply 
equally to all the infants that have been so cradled in all 
parts of the world. We cannot even press the argument 
drawn from the surname " He of the Winnowing-fan " which 
was borne by Dionysus, since we have seen that similar 
names are borne for similar reasons in India by persons who 
have no claim whatever to be regarded as deities of the corn. 
Yet when all necessary deductions have been made on this 
score, the association of Dionysus with the winnowing-fan 
appears to be too intimate to be explained away as a mere 
reminiscence of a practice to which every Greek baby, whether 

1 W. Mannhardt, "Kind und Korn," L. Strackerjan, Aberglaube und Sagen 
Mythologische Forschungen (Strasburg, aus dent Herzogthtim Oldenburg [Ol&zn- 
1884), pp. 351-374. burg, 1867), i. 81. 

2 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. pp. 351 

sqq. ■* Boeder -Kreutzwald, Der Ehsten 

3 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 372, abergldubische Gebrduche (St. Peters- 
citing A. Wuttke, Der deutsche Volks- burg, 1854), p. 61. This custom is 
a^er^Aj«3«2(Berlin, 1869), p. 339,§543; also cited by Mannhardt [I.e.). 



DIONYSUS 



Myth ol 
the death 
and resur- 
rection of 
Dionysus. 



human or divine, had to submit. That practice would hardly 
account either for the use of the winnowing- fan in the 
mysteries or for the appearance of the implement, filled with 
fruitage of various kinds, on the monuments which set forth 
the ritual of Dionysus.^ This last emblem points plainly to 
a conception of the god as a personification of the fruits of 
the earth in general ; and as if to emphasise the idea of 
fecundity conveyed by such a symbol there sometimes 
appears among the fruits in the winnowing-fan an effigy of 
the male organ of generation. The prominent place which 
that effigy occupied in the worship of Dionysus^ hints broadly, 
if it does not strictly prove, that to the Greek mind the 
god stood for the powers of fertility in general, animal as 
well as vegetable. In the thought of the ancients no sharp 
line of distinction divided the fertility of animals from the 
fertility of plants ; rather the two ideas met and blended 
in a nebulous haze. We need not wonder, therefore, that 
the same coarse but expressive emblem figured conspicuously 
in the ritual of Father Liber, the Italian counterpart of 
Dionysus, who in return for the homage paid to the symbol 
of his creative energy was believed to foster the growth of 
the crops and to guard the fields against the powers of evil.^ 
Like the other gods of vegetation whom we considered in 
the last volume, Dionysus was believed to have died a violent 
death, but to have been brought to life again ; and his suffer- 
ings, death, and resurrection were enacted in his sacred rites. 
His tragic story is thus told by the poet Nonnus. Zeus in 
the form of a serpent visited Persephone, and she bore him 
Zagreus, that is, Dionysus, a horned infant. Scarcely was 
he born, when the babe mounted the throne of his father 
Zeus and mimicked the great god by brandishing the 
lightning in his tiny hand. But he did not occupy the 
throne long ; for the treacherous Titans, their faces whitened 
with chalk, attacked him with knives while he was looking 



^ Miss J. E. Harrison, " Mystica 
Vannus lacchi," Journal of Hellenic 
Siudies, xxiii. (1903) pp. 296 sgq. ; 
id. , Frolegometia to the Study of Greek 
Religion,- -pT^. 518 j-^^.; L. R. Farnell, 
The Cults of the Greek States, v. 
(Oxford, 1909) p. 243. 

2 Herodotus, ii. 48, 49 ; Clement of 



Alexandria, Protrept. ii. 34, pp. 29- 
30, ed. Potter ; Dittenberger, Sylloge 
Insc7-iptionum Graecaru/n,'^ No. 19, 
vol. i. p. 32 ; M. P. Nilsson, Studia 
de Dionysiis Atticis (Lund, 1900), pp. 
90 sqq. ; L. R. Farnell, The Cults of 
the Greek States, v. 125, 195, 205. 
•' Augustine, De civitate Dei, vii. 21. 



I DIONYSUS 13 

at himself in a mirror. For a time he evaded their assaults 
by turning himself into various shapes, assuming the likeness 
successively of Zeus and Cronus, of a young man, of a lion, 
a horse, and a serpent. Finally, in the form of a bull, he 
was cut to pieces by the murderous knives of his enemies.^ 
His Cretan myth, as related by Firmicus Maternus, ran thus. 
He was said to have been the bastard son of Jupiter, a 
Cretan king. Going abroad, Jupiter transferred the throne and 
sceptre to the youthful Dionysus, but, knowing that his wife 
Juno cherished a jealous dislike of the child, he entrusted 
Dionysus to the care of guards upon whose fidelity he 
believed he could rely. Juno, however, bribed the guards, 
and amusing the child with rattles and a cunningly-wrought 
looking-glass lured him into an ambush, where her satellites, 
the Titans, rushed upon him, cut him limb from limb, boiled 
his body with various herbs, and ate it. But his sister 
Minerva, who had shared in the deed, kept his heart and 
gave it to Jupiter on his return, revealing to him the whole 
history of the crime. In his rage, Jupiter put the Titans to 
death by torture, and, to soothe his grief for the loss of his 
son, made an image in which he enclosed the child's heart, 
and then built a temple in his honour.'^ In this version a 
Euhemeristic turn has been given to the myth by repre- 
senting Jupiter and Juno (Zeus and Hera) as a king and 
queen of Crete. The guards referred to are the mythical 
Curetes who danced a war-dance round the infant Dionysus, 
as they are said to have done round the infant Zeus.^ 
Very noteworthy is the legend, recorded both by Nonnus Legend 
and Firmicus, that in his infancy Dionysus occupied for a ^^^^^^ 
short time the throne of his father Zeus. So Proclus tells Dionysus 
us that " Dionysus was the last king of the gods appointed for'^^'short 
by Zeus. For his father set him on the kingly throne, and time the 
placed in his hand the sceptre, and made him king of all the ^^^ f^^^jg^ 
gods of the world." ^ Such traditions point to a custom of Zeus. 
temporarily investing the king's son with the royal dignity 
as a preliminary to sacrificing him instead of his father. 

1 Nonnus, Dionys. vi. 155-205. Aglaophatnus, pp. iill sqg. 

2 Firmicus Maternus, De errore pro- * Proclus on Plato, Cratylus, p. 59, 
fanai-um religioiium, 6. quoted by E. Abel, Orphica, p. 228. 

3 Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. Compare Chr. A. Lobeck, Aglao- 
ii. 17. Compare Ch. A. Lobeck, pha?nus, pp. 552 sq. 



14 DIONYSUS CHAP. 

Pomegranates were supposed to have sprung from the blood 
of Dionysus, as anemones from the blood of Adonis and 
violets from the blood of Attis : hence women refrained 
from eating seeds of pomegranates at the festival of the 
Thesmophoria.^ According to some, the severed limbs of 
Dionysus were pieced together, at the command of Zeus, by 
Apollo, who buried them on Parnassus.^ The grave of 
Dionysus was shewn in the Delphic temple beside a golden 
statue of Apollo.^ However, according to another account, 
the grave of Dionysus was at Thebes, where he is said to 
have been torn in pieces.* Thus far the resurrection of the 
slain god is not mentioned, but in other versions of the myth 
it is variously related. According to one version, which 
represented Dionysus as a son of Zeus and Demeter, his 
mother pieced together his mangled limbs and made him 
young again.^ In others it is simply said that shortly after 
his burial he rose from the dead and ascended up to heaven;® 
or that Zeus raised him up as he lay mortally wounded ; ' or 
that Zeus swallowed the heart of Dionysus and then begat 
him afresh by Semele,^ who in the common legend figures 
as mother of Dionysus. Or, again, the heart was pounded 
up and given in a portion to Semele, who thereby conceived 
him.^ 

Turning from the myth to the ritual, we find that the 
Cretans celebrated a biennial ^^ festival at which the passion 

^ Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. by the French, 

ii. 19. Compare id. ii. 22 ; Scholiast * S. Clemens Romanus, Recogni- 

on Lucian, Dial. Meretr. vii. p. 280, tiones, x. 24 (Migne's Patrologia 

ed. H. Rabe. Graeca, i. col. 1434). 

^ Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. ^ Diodorus Siculus, iii. 62. 

ii. 18 ; Proclus on Plato's Zi'waeMj-, iii. ^ Macrobius, Comment, in Somn. 

p. 200 D, quoted by Lobeck, Aglao- Scip. i. 12. 12; Scriptores rerum 

phamus, p. 562, and by Abel, Orphica, mythicarum Latini tres Roniae nuper 

p. 234. Others said that the mangled reperti (commonly referred to as 

body was pieced together, not by Apollo Mythographi Vaticani), ed. G. H. 

but by Rhea (Cornutus, Theologiae Bode (Cellis, 1834), iii. 12. 5, p, 246; 

Graecae CoDipendium, 30). Origen, Contra Celstim, iv. 17 (vol. i. 

^ Ch. A. Lobeck, Aglaophamus, pp. p. 286, ed. P. Koetschau). 

<,']2sqq. SeQ The Dying God,^.-^. For ^ Himerius, Orat. ix. 4. 

a conjectural restoration of the temple, 8 Proclus, Hymn to Minerva, 

based on ancient authorities and an quoted by Ch. A. Lobeck, Aglaopha- 

examination of the scanty remains, see mus, p. 561 ; Orphica, ed. E. Abel, 

an article by J. H. Middleton, in p. 235. 

Journal of Hellenic Studies, ix. (1888) ^ Hyginus, Fabulae, 167. 

pp. 282 sqq. The ruins of the temple i" The festivals of Dionysus were 

have now been completely excavated biennial in many places. See G. F. 



I DIONYSUS 15 

of Dionysus was represented in every detail. All that he Death and 
had done or suffered in his last moments was enacted before '".^^""'f^- 

tion of 

the eyes of his worshippers, who tore a live bull to pieces Dionysus 
with their teeth and roamed the woods with frantic shouts. T^I^^ • 

sen ted in 

In front of them was carried a casket supposed to contain his rites. 
the sacred heart of Dionysus, and to the wild music of 
flutes and cymbals they mimicked the rattles by which the 
infant god had been lured to his doom.^ Where the 
resurrection formed part of the myth, it also was acted at 
the rites,^ and it even appears that a general doctrine of 
resurrection, or at least of immortality, was inculcated on 
the worshippers ; for Plutarch, writing to console his wife on 
the death of their infant daughter, comforts her with the 
thought of the immortality of the soul as taught by tradition 
and revealed in the mysteries of Dionysus,^ A different 
form of the myth of the death and resurrection of Dionysus 
is that he descended into Hades to bring up his mother 
Semele from the dead.^ The local Argive tradition was 
that he went down through the Alcyonian lake ; and his 
return from the lower world, in other words his resurrection, 
was annually celebrated on the spot by the Argives, who 
summoned him from the water by trumpet blasts, while 
they threw a lamb into the lake as an offering to the 
warder of the dead.^ Whether this was a spring festival 
does not appear, but the Lydians certainly celebrated the 
advent of Dionysus in spring ; the god was supposed to 
bring the season with him.^ Deities of vegetation, who are 

Schomann, Griechische Alterthiimer,'^ the agricultural processes ; and which 

ii. 524 5^^. (The terms for the festival would certainly be consecrated by a 

were rpier-qph, TpierrjpiKds, both terms special ritual attached to the god of the 

of the series being included in the soil." See L. R. Farnell, TAe Cults 

numeration, in accordance with the of the Greek States, v. 180 sq. 

ancient mode of reckoning. ) Perhaps ^ Firmicus Maternus, De errore 

the festivals were formerly annual and profanarutn religionum, 6. 

the period was afterwards lengthened, ^ Mythographi Vaticani, ed. G. H. 

as has happened with other festivals. Bode, iii. 12. 5, p. 246. 

See W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, pp. ^ Plutarch, Consol. ad uxor. 10. 

172, 175, 491, 533 sq., 598. Some Com^2LXt id., Isis et Osiris, -^^ ; id., De 

of the festivals of Dionysus, however, E Delphico,^;id.,Deesucarnium,\.']. 

were annual. Dr. Farnell has con- * Pausanias, ii. 31. 2 and 37. 5; 

jectured that the biennial period in Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, iii. 5. 3. 

many Greek festivals is to be explained '° Pausanias, ii. 37. 5 sq. ; Plutarch, 

by "the original shifting of land- Ists et Osiris, t,^ ; id., Quaest. Conviv. 

cultivation which is frequent in early iv. 6. 2. 

society owing to the backwardness of ^ Himerius, Orat. iii. 6, xiv. 7. 



i6 DIONYSUS CHAP, r- 

supposed to pass a certain portion of each year under ground, 

naturally come to be regarded as gods of the lower world 

or of the dead. Both Dionysus and Osiris were so conceived.^ 

Dionysus A feature in the mythical character of Dionysus, which 

sented in at first sight appears inconsistent with his nature as a deity 

the form Qf vesfctation, is that he was often conceived and represented 

of a bull. . '^l , , • ,, . , r , 

m animal shape, especially in the lorm, or at least with 
the horns, of a bull. Thus he is spoken of as " cow-born," 
"bull," "bull-shaped," "bull-faced," " bull -browed," "bull- 
horned," " horn-bearing," " two-horned," " horned." ^ He 
was believed to appear, at least occasionally, as a bull.^ His 
images were often, as at Cyzicus, made in bull shape,* or 
with bull horns ; ^ and he was painted with horns.^ Types 
of the horned Dionysus are found amongst the surviving 
monuments of antiquity." On one statuette he appears clad 
in a bull's hide, the head, horns, and hoofs hanging down 
behind.^ Again, he is represented as a child with clusters 
of grapes round his brow, and a calfs head, with sprouting 
horns, attached to the back of his head.^ On a red-figured 
vase the god is portrayed as a calf-headed child seated on a 
woman's lap.^° The people of Cynaetha in north-western 
Arcadia held a festival of Dionysus in winter, when men, 

1 For Dionysus in this capacity see * Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35 ; 
F. Lenormant in Daremberg et Saglio, Athenaeus, xi. 51, p. 476 A. 
Dictionnaire des Antiqnit^s Grecques 6 Diodorus Siculus, iii. 64. 2, iv. 4. 
et Romaines, i. 632. For Osiris, see 2; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Corn- 
Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, penditun '•o. 

pp 344^^. ^. ^^.. .^ 6 Diodorus Siculus, iii. 64. 2 ; J. Tzet- 

'■ Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, t.^; id., c- 7 7 r ■? „ ^ 

^ ^ ^ . , ' JJ ; ' zes, Schol. on Lycophron, 20Q, 12^6 ; 

Quaest. Graec. 30: Athenaeus, xi. i;i, t,,-, , , ,- • • , , , 

^ , ^,^ ' r A, , ■ Philostratus, Imaptnes, 1. 14(10. 

p. 476 a; Clement of Alexandria, , ,, ,, ' „ , \> 7 

Protrept. ii. 16 ; Orphica, Hymn xxx. , Muller-Wieseler, Denhndler der 

w. 3, 4, xlv. I, Iii. 2, liii. 8 ; '''^'" ^"'"^' "• P'- ''^'""- 5 Daremberg 

Euripides, Bacchae, 99 ; Scholiast on ^^ Saglio, Didionnaire des Antiques 

Aristophanes, Frogs, 357 ; Nicander, Grecquesjt Romaines, 1. 619 ^^., 631 ; 

Alexiphai-maca, 31 ; Lucian, Bacchus, ^^ ■ "• Roscher, Lexikon d grtech. u. 

2. The title Wpa^pt^Tr,, applied to ''"'"■ Myt^^ologie, i- ii49 sqq ; F. 

Dionysus {Homeric Hymns, xxxiv. 2 ; Imhoof-Blumer,, " Coin-types of some 

Porphyry, De abstinentia, iii. 17; Kilikian Cities,,' >«r««/ </ Zr^//^«?^ 

Dionysius, Perieg. 576 ; Etymologicum Studies, xviu. (1898) p. 165. 

Magnum,-^. 371. 57) is etymologically * F- G. Welcker, Alte Denkmdler 

equivalent to the Sanscrit varsabha, (Gottingen, 1849- 1864), v. taf. 2. 

"a bull," as I was informed by my ^ Archaeologische Zeitung, ix. 

lamented friend the late R. A. Neil of (1851) pi. xxxiii. , with Gerhard's 

Pembroke College, Cambridge. remarks, pp. 371-373. 

3 Euripides, Bacchae, 920 sqq., '" Gazette ArchMogiqiie, v. (1879) 

1017 ; Nonnus, Dionys. vi. 197 sqq. pi. 3. 



DIONYSUS 



17 



r who had greased their bodies with oil for the occasion, used 
■-' to pick out a bull from the herd and carry it to the sanctuary 
of the god. Dionysus was supposed to inspire their choice 
of the particular bull,^ which probably represented the deity 
himself; for at his festivals he was believed to appear in 
bull form. The women of Elis hailed him as a bull, and 
prayed him to come with his bull's foot. They sang, " Come 
hither, Dionysus, to thy holy temple by the sea ; come with 
the Graces to thy temple, rushing with thy bull's foot, O 
goodly bull, O goodly bull ! " ' The Bacchanals of Thrace 
wore horns in imitation of their god.^ According to the 
myth, it was in the shape of a bull that he was torn to 
pieces by the Titans ; ^ and the Cretans, when they acted 
the sufferings and death of Dionysus, tore a live bull to 
pieces with their teeth.^ Indeed, the rending and devouring 
of live bulls and calves appear to have been a regular feature 
of the Dionysiac rites.*^ When we consider the practice of 
portraying the god as a bull or with some of the features of 
the animal, the belief that he appeared in bull form to his 
worshippers at the sacred rites, and the legend that in bull 
form he had been torn in pieces, we cannot doubt that in 
rending and devouring a live bull at his festival the 
worshippers of Dionysus believed themselves to be killing 
the god, eating his flesh, and drinking his blood. 

Another animal whose form Dionysus assumed was the Dionysus 
goat. One of his names was " Kid." ^ At Athens and at 
Hermion he was worshipped under the title of " the one of 
the Black Goatskin," and a legend ran that on a certain 
occasion he had appeared clad in the skin from which he 
took the title.^ In the wine-growing district of Phlius, where 
in autumn the plain is still thickly mantled with the red and 

1 Pausanias, viii. 19. 2. on which there is a marginal gloss 

2 Plutarch, Quaestioiies Graecae, t,6; fxiKphs al'l, 6 eV ry 'iapi 4>aivl)fxevos, 
id., Isis et Osiris, 35. ^'i°^'^ ° Tpwi^os ; Stephanus Byzantius, 

3 J. Tzetzes, ScAol. on Lycophron, '-^ '^'<P^P^[^- .. 
J2,5 * Pausanias, 11. 35. I ; bcnoliast on 

* Nonnus, Dionys. vi. 205. Aristophanes, Acharn 146; Etymolo- 

. „. . ,, „ ncu?fi ]\Ianm>?i, s.v. ATrarof/atci, p. 1 18. 

» Firmicus Maternus, De errorepro- . g^j^^^^ ^_^^_ 'A,raToi)p:a and 

fanaru7n religionum, 6. ^eXa.ai^Sa ^^bvmov ; Nonnus, Dionys. 

6 Euripides, Bacchae, 735 sqq. ; xxvii. 302. Compare Conon, Narrat. 

Scholiast on Aristophanes, Frogs, 357. ^g^ where for MeXavdidr, we should 

'^ Hesychius, s.v. "Epirpos 6 ALbwaos, perhaps read MeXavalyiOi. 

PT. V. VOL. I C 



as a goat. 



1 8 DIONYSUS CHAP. 

golden foliage of the fading vines, there stood of old a 

bronze image of a goat, which the husbandmen plastered 

with gold-leaf as a means of protecting their vines against 

blight.^ The image probably represented the vine-god 

himself To save him from the wrath of Hera, his father 

Zeus changed the youthful Dionysus into a kid ; ^ and when 

the gods fled to Egypt to escape the fury of Typhon, 

Live goats Dionysus was turned into a goat.^ Hence when his 

d^^ourli worshippers rent in pieces a live goat and devoured it raw,* 

by his wor- they must have believed that they were eating the body and 

shippers. ^j^^^ ^^ ^j^g g^^ 

Custom of The custom of tearing in pieces the bodies of animals 

rending ^^^ ^f ,^q^ ^nd then devouring them raw has been practised 
devouring as a religious rite by savages in modern times. We need 
and men "°^ therefore dismiss as a fable the testimony of antiquity 
as a re- to the observance of similar rites among the frenzied 
igious nte. ^Qj-gi^ippej-s of Bacchus. An English missionary to the Coast 
cannibal- Indians of British Columbia has thus described a scene like 
ism among |.]-jg cannibal orgies of the Bacchanals. After mentioning that 

the Indians 11, r 1 1 11 

of British an old chicf had ordered a female slave to be dragged to 
Columbia, ^j^g beach, murdered, and thrown into the water, he proceeds 
as follows : " I did not see the murder, but, immediately 
after, I saw crowds of people running out of those houses 
near to where the corpse was thrown, and forming them- 
selves into groups at a good distance away. This I learnt 
was from fear of what was to follow Presently two bands 
of furious wretches appeared, each headed by a man in a 
state of nudity. They gave vent to the most unearthly 
sounds, and the two naked men made themselves look as 
unearthly as possible, proceeding in a creeping kind of 
stoop, and stepping like two proud horses, at the same time 

1 Pausanias, ii. 1 3. 6. On their As fawns appear to have been also torn 
return from Troy the Greeks are said in pieces at the rites of Dionysus 
to have found goats and an image of (Photius, Lexicon, s.v. ve^pl^eiv ; 
Dionysusin a cave of Euboea( Pausanias, Harpocration, s.v. ve^pli^wv), it is 
i. 23. I). probable that the fawn was another of 

2 Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, iii. 4. 3. the god's embodiments. But of this 

3 Ovid, ]Metai7t. v. 329 ; Antoninus there seems no direct evidence. Fawn- 
Liberalis, Transfortn. 28 ; Mythographi skins were worn both by the god and 
Vaticani, ed. G. H. Bode, i. 86, p. his worshippers (Cornutus, Theologiae 
29. Graecae Compendium, 30). Similarly 

■* Arnobius, Adversus naiiofies, v. the female Bacchanals wore goat-skins 
19. Compare Suidas, s.v. alyi^dv. (Hesychius, s.v. rpaytjcpdpoi). 



4 
I DIONYSUS 19 

shooting forward each arm alternately, which they held out 
at full length for a little time in the most defiant manner. 
Besides this, the continual jerking their heads back, causing 
their long black hair to twist about, added much to their 
savage appearance. For some time they pretended to be 
seeking the body, and the instant they came where it lay 
they commenced screaming and rushing round it like so 
many angry wolves. Finally they seized it, dragged it out 
of the water, and laid it on the beach, where I was told the 
naked men would commence tearing it to pieces with their 
teeth. The two bands of men immediately surrounded 
them, and so hid their horrid work. In a few minutes 
the crowd broke into two, when each of the naked cannibals 
appeared with half of the body in his hands. Separating 
a few yards, they commenced, amid horrid yells, their still 
more horrid feast. The sight was too terrible to behold. 
I left the gallery with a depressed heart. I may mention 
that the two bands of savages just alluded to belong to that 
class which the whites term ' medicine-men.' " The same 
writer informs us that at the winter ceremonials of these 
Indians " the cannibal, on such occasions, is generally 
supplied with two, three, or four human bodies, which he 
tears to pieces before his audience. Several persons, either 
from bravado or as a charm, present their arms for him 
to bite. I have seen several whom he has bitten, and I hear 
two have died from the effects." And when corpses were 
not forthcoming, these cannibals apparently seized and 
devoured living people. Mr. Duncan has seen hundreds of 
the Tsimshian Indians sitting in their canoes which they 
had just pushed off from the shore in order to escape being 
torn to pieces by a party of prowling cannibals. Others 
of these Indians contented themselves with tearing dogs 
to pieces, while their attendants kept up a growling noise, 
or a whoop, " which was seconded by a screeching noise 
made from an instrument which they believe to be the abode 
of a spirit." ^ 

^ Mr. Duncan, quoted by Commander was no doubt a bull-roarer, a flat piece 

R. C. Mayne, Four Years in British of stick whirled at the end of a string so 

Columbia and Vancouver Island (Lon- as to produce a droning or screaming 

don, 1862), pp. 284-288. The instru- note according to the speed of revolu- 

ment which made the screeching sound tion. Such instruments are used by 



20 DIONYSUS CHAP. 

Religious Mr. Duncan's account of these savage rites has been 

societies of j-^jj^ borne out by later observation. Among the Kwakiutl 
and Dog- Indians the Cannibals {Hamatsas) are the highest in rank of 
amon<^ the ^^^ Secret Societies. They devour corpses, bite pieces out 
Indians of of living people, and formerly ate slaves who had been 
Columbia, killed for the purpose. But when their fury has subsided, 
they are obliged to pay compensation to the persons whom 
they have bitten and to the owners of slaves whom they 
have killed. The indemnity consists sometimes of blankets, 
sometimes of canoes. In the latter case the tariff is fixed : 
one bite, one canoe. For some time after eating human 
flesh the cannibal has to observe a great many rules, which 
regulate his eating and drinking, his going out and his 
coming in, his clothing and his intercourse with his wife.^ 
Similar customs prevail among other tribes of the same 
coast, such as the Bella Coola, the Tsimshian, the Niska, 
and the Nootka. In the Nootka tribe members of the 
Panther Society tear dogs to pieces and devour them. They 
wear masks armed with canine teeth.^ So among the 
Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands there is one 
religion of cannibalism and another of dog-eating. The 
cannibals in a state of frenzy, real or pretended, bite flesh 
out of the extended arms of their fellow villagers. When 
they issue forth with cries of Hop-pop to observe this solemn 
rite, all who are of a different religious persuasion make 
haste to get out of their way ; but men of the cannibal creed 
and of stout hearts will resolutely hold out their arms to be 

the Koskimo Indians of the same eating of human flesh, see Taboo and 

region at their cannibal and other the Perils of the Soul, 'p'p. 1 88- 1 90. 
rites. See Fr. Boas, " The Social ^ Fr. Boas, " The Social Organiza- 

Organization and the Secret Societies tion and the Secret Societies of the 

of the Kwakiutl Indians," Report of Kwakiutl Indians," Report of the U.S. 

the U.S. National Museum for i8gs National Museum for j8g^ (Washing- 

(Washington, 1897), pp. 610, 611. ton, 1897), pp. 649 sq., 658 sq.; id., 

in "Sixth Report on the North- 

1 Fr. Boas, op. cit. pp. 437-443, western Tribes of Canada," Report of 

527 sq., 536, 537 sq., 579, 664; id., the British Association for i8go, p. 51; 

in " Fifth Report on the North-western (separate reprint); id., "Seventh 

TrihtsoiC^ndiAa.,'''' Report of the British Report on the North-western Tribes 

.-fw^«a/'/(7«/^;-7(S'<5*9, pp. 54-56 (separate of Canada," Report of the British 

reprint) ; id., in " Sixth Report on the Association for i8gi, pp. 10 sq. (separ- 

North - western Tribes of Canada," ate reprint);.?^., "Tenth Report onj 

Report of the British Association for the North-western Tribes of Canada,"! 

i8go, pp. 62, 65 sq. (separate reprint). Report of the British Association fort 

As to the rules observed after the f8gj, p. 58 (separate reprint). 



I DIONYSUS 21 

bitten. The sect of dog-eaters cut or tear dogs to pieces 
and devour some of the flesh ; but they have to pay for the 
dogs which they consume in their reh'gious enthusiasm.-^ 
In the performance of these savage rites the frenzied actors 
are beheved to be inspired by a Cannibal Spirit and a 
Dog-eating Spirit respectively.^ Again, in Morocco there is Live goats 
an order of saints known as Isowa or Aisawa, followers of "^^"^ "^ ^ 

' pieces and 

Mohammed ben Isa or Aisa of Mequinez, whose tomb is at devoured 
Fez. Every year on their founder's birthday they assemble j^ anatics 
at his shrine or elsewhere and holding each other's hands Morocco, 
dance a frantic dance round a fire. " While the mad dance 
is still proceeding, a sudden rush is made from the sanctuary, 
and the dancers, like men delirious, speed away to a place 
where live goats are tethered in readiness. At sight of these 
animals the fury of the savage and excited crowd reaches its 
height. In a few minutes the wretched animals are cut, or 
rather torn to pieces, and an orgy takes place over the raw 
and quivering flesh. When they seem satiated, the 
Emkaddim, who is generally on horseback, and carries a 
long stick, forms a sort of procession, preceded by wild 
music, if such discordant sounds will bear the name. 
Words can do no justice to the frightful scene which now 
ensues. The naked savages — for on these occasions a 
scanty piece of cotton is all their clothing — with their long 
black hair, ordinarily worn in plaits, tossed about by the 
rapid to-and-fro movements of the head, with faces and 
hands reeking with blood, and uttering loud cries resembling 
the bleating of goats, again enter the town. The place is 
now at their mercy, and the people avoid them as much as 
possible by shutting themselves up in their houses. A 
Christian or a Jew would run great risk of losing his life if 
either were found in the street. Goats are pushed out from 
the doors, and these the fanatics tear immediately to pieces 
with their hands, and then dispute over the morsels of 

* G. M. Dawson, Report on the Museum of Natural History). Forde- 

Qiteen Charlottle Islands, j8j8 (Mon- tails as to the practice of these savage 

treal, 1880), pp. 125 B, 128 B. rites among the Indian coast tribes of 

- J. R. Swanton, Contributions to British Columbia, see my Totemistn 

the Ethnology of the Haida (Leyden and Exogamy {London, 19 10), iii. pp. 

and New York, 1905), pp. 156, i6os^., 501, 511 s^., 5155^., 519, 521, 526, 

lio sq., 181 {The Jestip North Pacific 535 J^., 537, 539 ■<■?•, 542 sq., 544, 

Expedition, Memoir of the American 545. 



DIONYSUS 



CHAP. 



Later mis 
interpreta- 
tions of the 



bleeding flesh, as though they were ravenous wolves 
instead of men. Snakes also are thrown to them as tests 
of their divine frenzy, and these share the fate of the goats. 
Sometimes a luckless dog, straying as dogs will stray in 
a tumult, is seized on. Then the laymen, should any 
be at hand, will try to prevent the desecration of pious 
mouths. But the fanatics sometimes prevail, and the 
unclean animal, abhorred by the mussulman, is torn in 
pieces and devoured, or pretended to be devoured, with 
indiscriminating rage." ^ 

The custom of killing a god in animal form, which we 
shall examine more in detail further on, belongs to a very 
custom of early stage of human culture, and is apt in later times to be 
god"in ^ misunderstood. The advance of thought tends to strip the 
animal old animal and plant gods of their bestial and vegetable 
husk, and to leave their human attributes (which are always 
the kernel of the conception) as the final and sole residuum. 
In other words, animal and plant gods tend to become 
purely anthropomorphic. When they have become wholly 
or nearly so, the animals and plants which were at first the 
deities themselves, still retain a vague and ill-understood 
connexion with the anthropomorphic gods who have been 
developed out of them. The origin of the relationship 
between the deity and the animal or plant having been 
forgotten, various stories are invented to explain it. These 
explanations may follow one of two lines according as they 
are based on the habitual or on the exceptional treatment 
of the sacred animal or plant. The sacred animal was 
habitually spared, and only exceptionally slain ; and accord- 
ingly the myth might be devised to explain either why it 
was spared or why it was killed. Devised for the former 
purpose, the myth would tell of some service rendered to the 
deity by the animal ; devised for the latter purpose, the 
myth would tell of some injury inflicted by the animal on 
the god. The reason given for sacrificing goats to Dionysus 
exemplifies a myth of the latter sort. They were sacri- 



^ A. Leared, Morocco and the Moors 
(London, 1876), pp. 267-269. Com- 
pare Budgett Meakin, The Moors 
(London, 1902), pp. 331 sq. The 
same order of fanatics also exists 



and holds similar orgies in Algeria, 
especially at the town of Tlemcen. 
See E. Doutte, Les Aissdoua a Tlemcen 
(Chalons-sur-Marne, 1900), p. 13. 



DIONYSUS 



23 



ficed to him, it was said, because they injured the vine.^ 
Now the goat, as we have seen, was originally an embodi- 
ment of the god himself. But when the god had divested 
himself of his animal character and had become essentially 
anthropomorphic, the killing of the goat in his worship came 
to be regarded no longer as a slaying of the deity himself, 
but as a sacrifice offered to him ; and since some reason had 
to be assigned why the goat in particular should be sacrificed, 
it was alleged that this was a punishment inflicted on the 
goat for injuring the vine, the object of the god's especial 
care. Thus we have the strange spectacle of a god sacrificed 
to himself on the ground that he is his own enemy. And 
as the deity is supposed to partake of the victim offered to 
him, it follows that, when the victim is the god's old self, the 
god eats of his own flesh. Hence the goat-god Dionysus is 
represented as eating raw goat's blood ; " and the bull-god 
Dionysus is called " eater of bulls." ^ On the analogy of 
these instances we may conjecture that wherever a deity is 
described as the eater of a particular animal, the animal in 
question was originally nothing but the deity himself.* 
Later on we shall find that some savages propitiate dead bears 
and whales by offering them portions of their own bodies.^ 

All this, however, does not explain why a deity of Human 
vegetation should appear in animal form. But the con- ;„ ^he 
sideration of that point had better be deferred till we have worship of 

Dionysus. 

1 Varro, Rerum rusiicarum, i. 2. 19 ; aiyo(pdyos, Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. 

Virgil, Georg. ii. 376-381, with the 0^70^070?, p. 27. 52 (compare Scholiast 

comments of Servius on the passage on Oppianus, Halieitt. iii. 10 ; L. 

and on Aen. iii. 118 ; Ovid, Fasti, i. Stephani, in Compte- Rendu de la Com- 

353 -f^^.; id., Meta7iiorph.-&.v. 1145^.; mission Imperials Archeologiqtie pour 

Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Com- Pantti^e jS6g (St. Petersburg, 1870), 

pendium, 30. pp. 16-18) ; Apollo 6^o<pdyos at Elis, 

'^ Euripides, Bacc/iae, I ;^8sq.:dyp€vij}i' Athenaeus, viii. 36, p. 346 b; Artemis 

alfia TpayoKTdvov, tI)fjLO(pdyov x^'P'-"- Kairpocpdyos in Samos, Hesychius, s.v. 

3 Schol. on Aristophanes, /Vis^T, 357. Kairpo(pdyo? ; compaie id., s. v. Kpio(pdyos. 

* Hera aiyo<pdyos at Sparta, Pau- Divine titles derived from killing 

sanias, iii. 15. 9; Hesychius, s.v. animals are probably to be similarly 

aiyo4>dyos (compare the representation explained, as Dionysus aiyo^oXos (Pau- 

of Hera clad in a goat's skin, with the sanias, ix. 8. 2) ; Rhea or Hecate 

animal's head and horns over her head, Kvvoa(payr)s (J. Tzetzes, Scholia on 

M\x\\er-\Nitse\tx, Denkmdler der alteii lycophron, 77); Apollo XvKOKTdvos 

Kunst, i. No. 229 B ; and the similar (Sophocles, Electra, 6) ; Apollo cavpo- 

representation of the Lanuvinian Juno, kt6vo! (Pliny, A^al. Hist, xxxiv. 70). 
W. H. Roscher, Lexikon d. griech. u. ^ See below, vol. ii. pp. 184, 194, 

rom. Mythologie, ii. 605 sqq.); Zeus 196, 19737., 233. 



24 



DIONYSUS 



The 

legendary 
deaths of 
Pentheus 
and 

Lycurgus 
may be 
remin- 
iscences 
of a custom 
of sacrific- 
ing divine 
kings in 
the char- 
acter of 
Dionysus. 



discussed the character and attributes of Demeter. Mean- 
time it remains to mention that in some places, instead of 
an animal, a human being was torn in pieces at the rites of 
Dionysus. This was the practice in Chios and Tenedos ; ^ 
and at Potniae in Boeotia the tradition ran that it had been 
formerly the custom to sacrifice to the goat-smiting Dionysus 
a child, for whom a goat was afterwards substituted.^ At 
Orchomenus, as we have seen, the human victim was taken 
from the women of an old royal family.^ As the slain bull 
or goat represented the slain god, so, we may suppose, the 
human victim also represented him. 

The legends of the deaths of Pentheus and Lycurgus, 
two kings who are said to have been torn to pieces, the one 
by Bacchanals, the other by horses, for their opposition to 
the rites of Dionysus, may be, as I have already suggested,* 
distorted reminiscences of a custom of sacrificing divine 
kings in the character of Dionysus and of dispersing the 
fragments of their broken bodies over the fields for the 
purpose of fertilising them. In regard to Lycurgus, king of 
the Thracian tribe of the Edonians, it is expressly said that 
his subjects at the bidding of an oracle caused him to be 
rent in pieces by horses for the purpose of restoring the 
fertility of the ground after a period of barrenness and 
dearth.'^ There is no improbability in the tradition. We 
have seen that in Africa and other parts of the world kings 
or chiefs have often been put to death by their people for 
similar reasons.^ Further, it is significant that King Lycurgus 
is said to have slain his own son Dryas with an axe in a fit 
of madness, mistaking him for a vine-branch.''^ Have we not 
in this tradition a reminiscence of a custom of sacrificing the 
king's son in place of the father ? Similarly Athamas, a 
King of Thessaly or Boeotia, is said to have been doomed 
by an oracle to be sacrificed at the altar in order to remove 
the curse of barrenness which afflicted his country; however, 
he contrived to evade the sentence and in a fit of madness 
killed his own son Learchus, mistaking him for a wild beast. 



^ Porphyry, De abstinentia, ii. 55. 
^ Pausanias, ix. 8. 2. 
3 See The Dying God, pp. 163 sq. 
* Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 
Edition, pp. 332 sq. 



" Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, iii. 5. I. 

^ The Magic Art and the Evolution 
of Kings, i. 344, 345, 346, 352, 354, 
366 sq. 

'' Apollodorus, ^/(5//<?///i?c«, iii. 5.1. 



s 

I DIONYSUS 25 

That this legend was not a mere myth is made probable by 
a custom observed at Alus down to historical times : the 
eldest male scion of the royal house was regularly sacrificed 
in due form to Laphystian Zeus if he ever set foot within 
the town-hall.^ The close resemblance between the legends 
of King Athamas and King Lycurgus furnishes a ground for 
believing both legends to be based on a real custom of 
sacrificing either the king himself or one of his sons for the 
good of the country ; and the story that the king's son 
Dryas perished because his frenzied father mistook him for 
a vine-branch fits in well with the theory that the victim in 
these sacrifices represented the vine-god Dionysus. It is 
probably no mere coincidence that Dionysus himself is said 
to have been torn in pieces at Thebes,^ the very place where 
according to legend the same fate befell king Pentheus at 
the hands of the frenzied votaries of the vine-god.^ 

The theory that in prehistoric times Greek and Thracian Survival of 
kings or their sons may have been dismembered in the ^jtes 
character of the vine-god or the corn-god for the purpose of among the 

1 • 1 • • 1 r modern 

fertilising the earth or quickenmg the vmes has received 01 Thradan 
late years some confirmation from the discovery that down to peasantry. 
the present time in Thrace, the original home of Dionysus, 
a drama is still annually performed which reproduces with 
remarkable fidelity some of the most striking traits in the 
Dionysiac myth and ritual* In a former part of this work 
I have already called attention to this interesting survival 
of paganism among a Christian peasantry ; ^ but it seems 
desirable and appropriate in this place to draw out somewhat 

1 Herodotus, vii. 197; ApoUodorus, '' See Mr. R. M. Dawkins, "The 

Bibliotheca, i. 9. i sq. ; Scholiast on Modern Carnival in Thrace and the 

Aristophanes, Clouds, 257 ; J. Tzetzes, Cult oiDiowysns," Jounial of Hellenic 

Schol. on Lycophron, 21; Hyginus, Studies, xxvi. (1906) pp. 191-206. 

Fabtilae, 1-5. See The Dying God, pp. Mr. Dawkins describes the ceremonies 

161-163. partly from his own observation, partly 

9 ^, Ti n ■.■ from an account of them published by 

^ Clemens Romanus, Kecos:nitiones, -^ /^utit- • r-^i 

,,.,. , r> , , ■ % • Mr. G. M. Vizyenos in a Greek 

X. 24 (Migne s Fatrolos^ia Graeca, 1. • j- 1 ^-w > 'n • c \ -^x. 

, ] \ \ periodical QpaKiKri ETrerT/ptj, of which 

^■^^'' only one number was published at 

3 Euripides, Bacchae, 43 sqq., 1043 Athens in 1897. From his personal 

sqq. ; Theocritus, Idyl. xxvi. ; Pausanias, observations Mr. Dawkins was able to 

ii. 2. 7. Strictly speaking, the murder confirm the accuracy of Mr. Vizyenos s 

of Pentheus is said to have been per- account. 

petrated not at Thebes, of which he ^ Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 

was king, but on Mount Cithaeron. Edition, pp. 333 sq. 



26 



DIONYSUS 



Drama 

annually 

performed 

at the 

Carnival 

in the 

villages 

round 

Viza, 

an old 

Thracian 

capital. 



The actors 
in the 

drama. 



more fully the parallelism between the modern drama and 
the ancient worship. 

The drama, which may reasonably be regarded as a direct 
descendant of the Dionysiac rites, is annually performed at 
the Carnival in all the Christian villages which cluster round 
Viza, the ancient Bizya, a town of Thrace situated about 
midway between Adrianople and Constantinople. In anti- 
quity the city was the capital of the Thracian tribe of the 
Asti ; the kings had their palace there,^ probably in the 
acropolis, of which some fine walls are still standing. 
Inscriptions preserved in the modern town record the names 
of some of these old kings.^ The date of the celebration is 
Cheese Monday, as it is locally called, which is the Monday 
of the last week of Carnival. At Viza itself the mummery 
has been shorn of some of its ancient features, but these 
have been kept up at the villages and have been particularly 
observed and recorded at the village of St. George (Haghios 
Gheorgios). It is to the drama as acted at that village that 
the following description specially applies. The principal 
parts in the drama are taken by two men disguised in 
goatskins. Each of them wears a headdress made of a 
complete goatskin, which is stuffed so as to rise a foot or 
more like a shako over his head, while the skin falls over the 
face, forming a mask with holes cut for the eyes and mouth. 
Their shoulders are thickly padded with hay to protect them 
from the blows which used to be rained very liberally on 
their backs. Fawnskins on their shoulders and goatskins on 
their legs are or used to be part of their equipment, and 
another indispensable part of it is a number of sheep-bells 
tied round their waists. One of the two skin-clad actors 
carries a bow and the other a wooden effigy of the male 
organ of generation. Both these actors must be married 
men. According to Mr. Vizyenos, they are chosen for periods 
of four years. Two unmarried boys dressed as girls and 
sometimes called brides also take part in the play ; and a 
man disguised as an old woman in rags carries a mock baby 
in a basket ; the brat is supposed to be a seven-months' 
child born out of wedlock and begotten by an unknown 

1 Strabo, vii. frag. 48 ; Stephanus Byzantius, s.7<. Bij't'T?. 
2 R. M. Dawkins, op. cit. p. 192. 



I DIONYSUS 27 

father. The basket in which the hopeful infant is paraded 
bears the ancient name of the winnowing-fan {likni, con- 
tracted from liknoi) and the babe itself receives the very 
title " He of the Winnowing-fan " {Liknites) which in anti- 
quity was applied to Dionysus. Two other actors, clad in 
rags with blackened faces and armed with stout saplings, 
play the parts of a gypsy-man and his wife ; others per- 
sonate policemen armed with swords and whips ; and the 
troupe is completed by a man who discourses music on a 
bagpipe. 

Such are the masqueraders. The morning of the day Thecere- 
on which they perform their little drama is spent by them |^°,"'^gjfje 
going from door to door collecting bread, eggs, or money, forging of 
At every door the two skin-clad maskers knock, the boys shal-n"^" 
disguised as girls dance, and the gypsy man and wife enact mock 
an obscene pantomime on the straw-heap before the house. ^nTT^^' 
When every house in the village has been thus visited, the pretence of 

, . . , 1 r ^1 -11 death and 

troop takes up position on the open space before the village resurrec- 
church, where the whole population has already mustered to tion. 
witness the performance. After a dance hand in hand, in 
which all the actors take part, the two skin-clad maskers 
withdraw aad leave the field to the gypsies, who now pretend 
to forge a ploughshare, the man making believe to hammer 
the share and his wife to work the bellows. At this point 
the old woman's baby is supposed to grow up at a great 
pace, to develop a huge appetite for meat and drink, 
and to clamour for a wife. One of the skin-clad men 
now pursues one of the two pretended brides, and a 
mock marriage is celebrated between the couple. After 
these nuptials have been performed with a parody of a real 
wedding, the mock bridegroom is shot by his comrade with 
the bow and falls down on his face like dead. His slayer 
thereupon feigns to skin him with a knife ; but the dead 
man's wife laments over her deceased husband with loud 
cries, throwing herself across his prostrate body. In this 
lamentation the slayer himself and all the other actors join 
in : a Christian funeral service is burlesqued ; and the pre- 
tended corpse is lifted up as if to be carried to the grave. 
At this point, however, the dead man disconcerts the 
preparations for his burial by suddenly coming to life 



28 



DIONYSUS 



The cere- 
monies also 
include a 
simulation 
of plough- 
ing and 
sowing by 
skin-clad 
men, ac- 
companied 
by prayers 
for good 
crops. 



Kindred 
ceremony 
performed 
by a 
masked 
and skin- 
clad man 
who is 
called a 
king. 



again and getting up. So ends the drama of death and 
resurrection. 

The next act opens with a repetition of the pretence of 
forging a ploughshare, but this time the gypsy man hammers 
on a real share. When the implement is supposed to have 
been fashioned, a real plough is brought forward, the 
mockery appears to cease, the two boys dressed as girls are 
yoked to the plough and drag it twice round the village 
square contrary to the way of the sun. One of the two 
skin-clad men walks at the tail of the plough, the other 
guides it in front, and a third man follows in the rear 
scattering seed from a basket. After the two rounds have 
been completed, the gypsy and his wife are yoked to the 
plough, and drag it a third time round the square, the two 
skin-clad men still playing the part of ploughmen. At Viza 
the plough is drawn by the skin-clad men themselves. While 
the plough is going its rounds, followed by the sower sowing 
the seed, the people pray aloud, saying, " May wheat be ten 
piastres the bushel ! Rye five piastres the bushel ! Amen, 
O God, that the poor may eat ! Yea, O God, that poor folk 
be filled ! " This ends the performance. The evening is 
spent in feasting on the proceeds of the house-to-house 
visitation which took place in the morning.^ 

A kindred festival is observed on the same day of the 
Carnival at Kosti, a place in the extreme north of Thrace, 
near the Black Sea. There a man dressed in sheepskins or 
goatskins, with a mask on his face, bells round his neck, and 
a broom in his hand, goes round the village collecting food 
and presents. He is addressed as a king and escorted with 
music. With him go boys dressed as girls, and another boy, 
not so disguised, who carries wine in a wooden bottle and 
gives of it to every householder to drink in a cup, receiving 
a gift in return. The king then mounts a two-wheeled cart 
and is drawn to the church. He carries seed in his hand, 
and at the church two bands of men, one of married men 
and the other of unmarried men, try each in turn to induce 
the king to throw the seed on them. Finally he casts it on 
the ground in front of the church. The ceremony ends with 



1 R. M. Dawkins, "The Modern 
Carnival in Thrace and the Cult of 



V>\ox\y%ws,'''- Journal of Hellenic Studies, 
xxvi. (1906) pp. 193-201. 



I DIONYSUS 29 

Stripping the king of his clothes and flinging him into the 
river, after which he resumes his usual dress.^ 

In these ceremonies, still annually held at and near an Analogy 
old capital of Thracian kings, the points of similarity to the °[o^ern 
ritual of the ancient Thracian deity Dionysus are sufficiently Thracian 
obvious.^ The goatskins in which the principal actors are toThe°"'^^ 
disguised remind us of the identification of Dionysus with a ancient 
goat : the infant, cradled in a winnowing-fan and taking Dionysus. 
its name from the implement, answers exactly to the 
traditions and the monuments which represent the infant 
Dionysus as similarly cradled and similarly named : the 
pretence that the baby is a seven-months' child born out 
of wedlock and begotten by an unknown father tallies 
precisely with the legend that Dionysus was born prematurely 
in the seventh month as the offspring of an intrigue between 
a mortal woman and a mysterious divine father : ^ the same 
coarse symbol of reproductive energy which characterised 
the ancient ritual of Dionysus figures conspicuously in the 
modern drama : the annual mock marriage of the goatskin- 
clad mummer with the pretended bride may be compared 
with the annual pretence of marrying Dionysus to the 
Queen of Athens : and the simulated slaughter and resurrec- 
tion of the same goatskin-clad actor may be compared with 
the traditional slaughter and resurrection of the god himself. 
Further, the ceremony of ploughing, in which after his 
resurrection the goatskin-clad mummer takes a prominent 
part, fits in well not only with the legend that Dionysus was 
the first to yoke oxen to the plough, but also with the 
symbolism of the winnowing-fan in his worship ; while the 
prayers for plentiful crops which accompany the ploughing 
accord with the omens of an abundant harvest which were 
drawn of old from the mystic light seen to illumine by night 
one of his ancient sanctuaries in Thrace. Lastly, in the 
ceremony as observed at Kosti the giving of wine by the king's 

1 R. M. Dawkins, op. cit. pp. connexion of the modern Thracian 
201 sq. ceremonies with the ancient rites of 

2 They have been clearly indicated Dionysus. 

by Mr. R. M. Dawkins, op. cit. pp. ^ Lucian, Dialogi Deorum, ix. 2 ; 

203 sqq. Compare W. Ridgeway, The Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, iii. 4. 4. 

Origin of Tragedy (Cambridge, 1910), According to the latter writer Dionysus 

pp. 15 sqq., who fully recognises the was born in the sixth month. 



30 



DIONYSUS 



The 

modern 
Thracian 
celebration 
seems to 
correspond 
most 
closely to 
the ancient 
Athenian 
festival of 
the An- 
thesteria. 



attendant is an act worthy of the wine-god : the throwing 
of seed by the king can only be interpreted, like the plough- 
ing, as a charm to promote the fertility of the ground ; and 
the royal title borne by the principal masker harmonises 
well with the theory that the part of the god of the corn and 
the wine was of old sustained by the Thracian kings who 
reigned at Bisya. 

If we ask, To what ancient festival of Dionysus does the 
modern celebration of the Carnival in Thrace most nearly 
correspond ? the answer can be hardly doubtful. The 
Thracian drama of the mock marriage of the goatskin-clad 
mummer, his mimic death and resurrection, and his sub- 
sequent ploughing, corresponds both in date and in character 
most nearly to the Athenian festival of the Anthesteria, 
which was celebrated at Athens during three days in early 
spring, towards the end of February or the beginning of 
March. Thus the date of the Anthesteria could not fall 
far from, and it might sometimes actually coincide with, the 
last week of the Carnival, the date of the Thracian cele- 
bration. While the details of the festival of the Anthesteria 
are obscure, its general character is well known. It was 
a festival both of wine-drinking and of the dead, whose 
souls were supposed to revisit the city and to go about the 
streets, just as in modern Europe and in many other parts 
of the world the ghosts of the departed are still believed to 
return to their old homes on one day of the year and to be 
entertained by their relatives at a solemn Feast of All 
Souls.^ But the Dionysiac nature of the festival was 
revealed not merely by the opening of the wine-vats and 
the wassailing which went on throughout the city among 
freemen and slaves alike ; on the second day of the festival 
the marriage of Dionysus with the Queen of Athens was 
celebrated with great solemnity at the Bucolium or Ox-stall.^ 



' As to such festivals of All Souls 
see Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 
Edition, pp. 301-318. 

2 Tlie passages of ancient authors 
which refer to the Anthesteria are 
collected by Professor Martin P. Nilsson, 
Studiade Dionysiis Atticis (l^vmd, 1 900), 
pp. 1485-^^. As to the festival, which has 
been much discussed of late years, see 



August Mommsen, Heoi-tologie (Leipsic, 
1864), pp. 345 sqq. ; id., Feste der 
Stadt At hen im Altertum (Leipsic, 
1898), pp. 384 ^■$'17.; G. F. Schoemann, 
Griechische Alterthiimei-^ { Berlin, 1 902), 
ii. 516 sqq. ; E. Rohde, Psyche'^ 
(Tubingen and Leipsic, 1903), i. 236 
sqq. ; Martin P. Nilsson, op. cit. pp. 
1 1 5 sqq. ; P. Foucart, Le Cidte de 



DIONYSUS 



31 



It has been suggested with much probability ^ that at 
this sacred marriage in the Ox-stall the god was repre- 
sented wholly or partly in bovine shape, whether by an 
image or by an actor dressed in the hide and wearing the 
horns of a bull ; for, as we have seen, Dionysus was often 
supposed to assume the form of a bull and to present himself 
in that guise to his worshippers. If this conjecture should 
prove to be correct — though a demonstration of it can 
hardly be expected — the sacred marriage of the Queen to 
the Bull-god at Athens would be parallel to the sacred 
marriage of the Queen to the Bull-god at Cnossus, 
according to the interpretation which I have suggested 
of the myth of Pasiphae and the Minotaur ; ^ only 
whereas the bull-god at Cnossus, if I am right, stood for the 
Sun, the bull-god at Athens stood for the powers of vegeta- 
tion, especially the corn and the vines. It would not be 
surprising that among a cattle-breeding people in early days 
the bull, regarded as a type of strength and reproductive 
energy, should be employed to symbolise and represent more 
than one of the great powers of nature. If Dionysus did 
indeed figure as a bull at his marriage, it is not improbable 
that on that occasion his representative, whether a real bull 
or a man dressed in a bull's hide, took part in a ceremony 
of ploughing ; for we have seen that the invention of yoking 
oxen to the plough was ascribed to Dionysus, and we know 
that the Athenians performed a sacred ceremony of plough- 
ing, which went by the name of the Ox-yoked Ploughing 
and took place in a field or other open piece of 
ground at the foot of the Acropolis.^ It is a reasonable 
conjecture that the field of the Ox-yoked Ploughing may 
have adjoined the building called the Ox-stall in which the 
marriage of Dionysus with the Queen was solemnised ; * for 

Dionysos en Attiqiie (Paris, 1904), pp. Moellendorff, Aristoteles uiid Athen 

107 sqq.; Miss J. E. Harrison, Pro- (Berlin, 1893), ii. 42; and afterwards 

legomena to the Study of Greek Re- by Miss J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena 

ligion^ (Cambridge, 1908), pp. 32 sqq. ; to the Study of Greek Religion^ p. 536. 
L. R. Farnell, Ihe Cults of the Greek ^ The Dying God, p. 71. 

States, V. (Oxford, 1909) pp. 214 sqq. ^ Plutarch, Conjugalia Praecepta, 

As to the marriage of Dionysus to the 42. 

Queen of Athens, see The Magic Art * Miss J. E. Harrison, Mythology 

and the Evolution of Kings, i, 12,6 sq. and Monuments of Ancient Athens 

* By Professor U. von Wilamowitz- (London, 1890), pp. 166 sq. 



32 



DIONYSUS 



'I'heory 
that the 
rites of the 
Anthes- 
teria 

comprised 
a drama 
of the 
violent 
death and 
resurrec- 
tion of 
Dionysus. 



that building is known to have been near the Prytaneum or 
Town-Hall on the northern slope of the Acropolis.^ 

Thus on the whole the ancient festival of the Anthesteria, 
so far as its features are preserved by tradition or can be 
restored by the use of reasonable conjecture, presents several 
important analogies to the modern Thracian Carnival in 
respect of wine-drinking, a mock marriage of disguised actors, 
and a ceremony of ploughing. The resemblance between 
the ancient and the modern ritual would be still closer if 
some eminent modern scholars, who wrote before the dis- 
covery of the Thracian Carnival, and whose judgment was 
therefore not biassed by its analogy to the Athenian festival, 
are right in holding that another important feature of the 
Anthesteria was the dramatic death and resurrection of 
Dionysus.^ They point out that at the marriage of Dionysus 
fourteen Sacred Women officiated at fourteen altars ; ^ that 
the number of the Titans, who tore Dionysus in pieces, was 
fourteen, namely seven male and seven female ; ^ and that 
Osiris, a god who in some respects corresponded closely 
to Dionysus, is said to have been rent by Typhon into 
fourteen fragments.^ Hence they conjecture that at Athens 
the body of Dionysus was dramatically broken into fourteen 
fragments, one for each of the fourteen altars, and that it 
was afterwards dramatically pieced together and restored to 
life by the fourteen Sacred Women, just as the broken body 
of Osiris was pieced together by a company of gods and 
goddesses and restored to life by his sister Isis.^ The con- 
jecture is ingenious and plausible, but with our existing 
sources of information it must remain a conjecture and 

' Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 



3. As to the situation of the Prytaneum 
see my note on Pausanias, i. 18. 3 (vol. 
ii. p. 172). 

2 August Mommsen, Heortologie, 
pp. 371 sqq. ; id., Feste der Stadt 
Athen im Altej-tum, pp. 398 sqq. ; P. 
Foucart, Le Culte de Dionysos en 
Attiqtie, pp. 138 sqq. 

^ Demosthenes, Contra Neaer. 73, 
pp. 1369 sq. ; Julius Pollux, viii. 108 ; 
Etymologicum Magnwn, p. 227, s.v. 
yepalpai ; Hesychius, s.v. yepapal. 

* Chr. A. Lobeck, Aglaophamns, 



P- 505. 

^ Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 18, 42. 

® The resurrection of Osiris is not 
described by Plutarch in his treatise 
/sis et Osiris, which is still our principal 
source for the myth of the god ; but 
it is fortunately recorded in native 
Egyptian writings. See Adonis, Attis, 
Osiris, Second Edition, p. 274. P. 
Foucart supposes that the resurrec- 
tion of Dionysus was enacted at the 
Anthesteria ; August Mommsen pre- 
fers to suppose that it was enacted 
in the following month at the Lesser 
Mysteries. 



T DIONYSUS 33 

nothing more. Could it be established, it would forge 
another strong link in the chain of evidence which binds 
the modern Thracian Carnival to the ancient Athenian 
Anthesteria ; for in that case the drama of the divine death 
and resurrection would have to be added to the other 
features which these two festivals of spring possess in common, 
and we should have to confess that Greece had what we 
may call its Good Friday and its Easter Sunday long before 
the events took place in Judaea which diffused these two 
annual commemorations of the Dying and Reviving God 
over a great part of the civilised world. From so simple a 
beginning may flow consequences so far-reaching and im- 
pressive ; for in the light of the rude Thracian ceremony 
we may surmise that the high tragedy of the death and 
resurrection of Dion}'sus originated in a rustic mummers' 
play acted by ploughmen for the purpose of fertilising the 
brown earth which they turned up with the gleaming share 
in sunshiny days of spring, as they followed the slow-paced 
oxen down the long furrows in the fallow field. Later on 
we shall see that a play of the same sort is still acted, or 
was acted down to recent years, by English yokels on 
Plough Monday. 

But before we pass from the tragic myth and ritual of Legends of 
Dionysus to the sweeter story and milder worship of Demeter sacrifice in 
and Persephone, the true Greek deities of the corn, it is fair the wor- 
to admit that the legends of human sacrifice, which have Dionysus 
left so dark a stain on the memory of the old Thracian god, ™^y ^^. 

•^ . . 7 mere mis- 

may have been nothing more than mere misinterpretations interpreta- 

of a sacrificial ritual in which an animal victim was treated t'onsof 

ritual. 

as a human being. For example, at Tenedos the new-born 
calf sacrificed to Dionysus was shod in buskins, and the 
mother cow was tended like a woman in child-bed.^ At 
Rome a she-goat was sacrificed to Vedijovis as if it were a 
human victim.' Yet on the other hand it is equally possible, 
and perhaps more probable, that these curious rites were 
themselves mitigations of an older and ruder custom of 
sacrificing human beings, and that the later pretence of 

1 Aelian, De A^atnra Aninialiiim , 1894), pp. 300 sqq. 
xii. 34. Compare W. Robertson Smith, 

Religion of the Semites- (London, ^ Aulus Gellius, v. 12. 12. 

PI". V. VOL. I D 



34 DIONYSUS chap, i 

treating the sacrificial victims as if they were human beings 
was merely part of a pious and merciful fraud, which 
palmed off on the deity less precious victims than living 
men and women. This interpretation is supported by the 
undoubted cases in which animals have been substituted 
for human victims.^ On the whole we may conclude that 
neither the polished manners of a later age, nor the glamour 
which Greek poetry and art threw over the figure of 
Dionysus, sufficed to conceal or erase the deep lines of 
savagery and cruelty imprinted on the features of this 
barbarous deity. 

^ See The Dying God, p. i66 note ', and below, p. 249. 



CHAPTER II 

DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 

Dionysus was not the only Greek deity whose tragic story Demeter 
and ritual appear to reflect the decay and revival of vesfeta- ^"'^^p^''- 

'■ '■ ■' o sephone 

tion. In another form and with a different application the as Greek 
old tale reappears in the myth of Demeter and Persephone. ficltioHs of 
Substantially their myth is identical with the Syrian one of the decay 
Aphrodite (Astarte) and Adonis, the Phrygian one of Cybele of vegTta-^ 
and Attis, and the Egyptian one of Isis and Osiris. In the t'o°- 
Greek fable, as in its Asiatic and Egyptian counterparts, a 
goddess mourns the loss of a loved one, who personifies the 
vegetation, more especially the corn, which dies in winter to 
revive in spring ; only whereas the Oriental imagination 
figured the loved and lost one as a dead lover or a dead 
husband lamented by his leman or his wife, Greek fancy 
embodied the same idea in the tenderer and purer form of a 
dead daughter bewailed by her sorrowing mother. 

The oldest literary document which narrates the myth The 
of Demeter and Persephone is the beautiful Homeric Hymn ^°™^"^ 
to Demeter, which critics assign to the seventh century before Demeter. 
our era.^ The object of the poem is to explain the origin of 
the Eleusinian mysteries, and the complete silence of the 
poet as to Athens and the Athenians, who in after ages 
took a conspicuous part in the festival, renders it probable 
that the hymn was composed in the far off time when 
Eleusis was still a petty independent state, and before the 
stately procession of the Mysteries had begun to defile, in 

1 R. Foerster, Der Ratib und die A later date— the age of the Pisistra- 

Riickkehr der Persopkoiie (Stuttgart, tids — is assigned to the hymn by A. 

1S74), pp. 37-39; The Homeric Bnumeistei {Ifj'mni //o/nerici, heipsic. 

Hymns, edited by T. W. Allen and i860, p. 280). 
E. E. Sikes (London, 1904), pp. 10 sq. 

35 



36 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



The rape 
of Per- 
sephone. 



The 

wrath of 
Demeter. 



bright September days, over the low chain of barren rocky 
hills which divides the flat Eleusinian corn land from the 
more spacious olive-clad expanse of the Athenian plain. Be 
that as it may, the hymn reveals to us the conception which 
the writer entertained of the character and functions of the 
two goddesses : their natural shapes stand out sharply enough 
under the thin veil of poetical imagery. The youthful 
Persephone, so runs the tale, was gathering roses and lilies, 
crocuses and violets, hyacinths and narcissuses in a lush 
meadow, when the earth gaped and Pluto, lord of the Dead, 
issuing from the abyss carried her off on his golden car to 
be his bride and queen in the gloomy subterranean world. 
Her sorrowing mother Demeter, with her yellow tresses 
veiled in a dark mourning mantle, sought her over land and 
sea, and learning from the Sun her daughter's fate she 
withdrew in high dudgeon from the gods and took up her 
abode at Eleusis, where she presented herself to the king's 
daughters in the guise of an old woman, sitting sadly under 
the shadow of an olive tree beside the Maiden's Well, to 
which the damsels had come to draw water in bronze pitchers 
for their father's house. In her wrath at her bereavement 
the goddess suffered not the seed to grow in the earth but kept 
it hidden under ground, and she vowed that never would she 
set foot on Olympus and never would she let the corn sprout 
till her lost daughter should be restored to her. Vainly the 
oxen dragged the ploughs to and fro in the fields ; vainly 
the sower dropped the barley seed in the brown furrows ; 
nothing came up from the parched and crumbling soil. 
Even the Rarian plain near Eleusis, which was wont to 
wave with yellow harvests, lay bare and fallow.^ Mankind 
would have perished of hunger and the gods would have 
been robbed of the sacrifices which were their due, if Zeus 
in alarm had not commanded Pluto to disgorge his prey, to 
restore his bride Persephone to her mother Demeter. The 
grim lord of the Dead smiled and obeyed, but before he 
sent back his queen to the upper air on a golden car, he 
gave her the seed of a pomegranate to eat, which ensured 
that she would return to him. But Zeus stipulated that 
henceforth Persephone should spend two thirds of every 

1 Hynui to Demeter, I sqq., 302 sqq., 330 sqq., 349 sqq., 414 sqq., 450 sqq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 37 

year with her mother and the gods in the upper world and 
one third of the year with her husband in the nether world, 
from which she was to return year by year when the earth 
was gay with spring flowers. Gladly the daughter then The return 
returned to the sunshine, gladly her mother received her and sephone 
fell upon her neck ; and in her joy at recovering the lost 
one Demeter made the corn to sprout from the clods of the 
ploughed fields and all the broad earth to be heavy with 
leaves and blossoms. And straightway she went and 
shewed this happy sight to the princes of Eleusis, to 
Triptolemus, Eumolpus, Diodes, and to the king Celeus 
himself, and moreover she revealed to them her sacred rites 
and mysteries. Blessed, says the poet, is the mortal man 
who has seen these things, but he who has had no share of 
them in life will never be happy in death when he has 
descended into the darkness of the grave. So the two 
goddesses departed to dwell in bliss with the gods on 
Olympus ; and the bard ends the hymn with a pious prayer 
to Demeter and Persephone that they would be pleased to 
grant him a livelihood in return for his song.^ 

It has been generally recognised, and indeed it seems The aim 
scarcely open to doubt, that the main theme which the poet Homeric 
set before himself in composing this hymn was to describe Hymn to 
the traditional foundation of the Eleusinian mysteries by the jg to ex- 
goddess Demeter. The whole poem leads up to the trans- pi^^'" ^he 

t 1 1 1 1 n f 1 traditional 

formation scene in which the bare leafless expanse of the foundation 
Eleusinian plain is suddenly turned, at the will 6f the °^/'^'^. . 

^ ■' ' Eleusinian 

goddess, into a vast sheet of ruddy corn ; the beneficent mysteries 
deity takes the princes of Eleusis, shews them what she has ^^^^^^^^ 
done, teaches them her mystic rites, and vanishes with her 
daughter to heaven. The revelation of the mysteries is the 
triumphal close of the piece. This conclusion is confirmed 
by a more minute examination of the poem, which proves 
that the poet has given, not merely a general account of the 
foundation of the mysteries, but also in more or less veiled 
language mythical explanations of the origin of particular 
rites which we have good reason to believe formed essential 

^ Hymn to Demeter, ^losgi/. ^Vith of Apollodorus {Bibliotheca, i. 5) and 
the myth as set forth in the Homeric Ovid {Fasti, iv. 425-618; Metamor- 
hymn maybe compared the accounts phoses, v. 385 sqq.). 



38 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



features of the festival. Amongst the rites as to which the 
poet thus drops significant hints are the preHminary fast of 
the candidates for initiation, the torchlight procession, the 
all-night vigil, the sitting of the candidates, veiled and in 
silence, on stools covered with sheepskins, the use of scurrilous 
language, the breaking of ribald jests, and the solemn com- 
munion with the divinity by participation in a draught of 
barley-water from a holy chalice.'^ 
Revelation But there is yet another and a deeper secret of the 

°^rVf^coni mysteries which the author of the poem appears to have 
the crown- divulged uudcr cover of his narrative. He tells us how, as 
soon as she had transformed the barren brown expanse of the 
Eleusinian plain into a field of golden grain, she gladdened 
the eyes of Triptolemus and the other Eleusinian princes by 
shewing them the growing or standing corn. When we 
compare this part of the story with the statement of a 
Christian writer of the second century, Hippolytus, that the 
very heart of the mysteries consisted in shewing to the 
initiated a reaped ear of corn,^ we can hardly doubt that 



ing act 
of the 
mysteries 



1 Hyimi to Denieter, 47-50, 191- 
211, 292-295, with the notes of 
Messrs. Allen and Sikes in their edi- 
tion of the Homeric Hymns (London, 
1904). As to representations of the 
candidates for initiation seated on stools 
draped with sheepskins, see L. R. 
Farnell, The Cults of the Greek States, 
iii. (Oxford, 1907) pp. 237 sqq., with 
plate xv(?. On a well-known marble 
vase there figured the stool is covered 
with a lion's skin and one of the candi- 
date's feet rests on a ram's skull or horns; 
but in two other examples of the same 
scene the ram's fleece is placed on the 
seat (Farnell, op. cit. p. 240 note ^), 
just as it is said to have been placed 
on Demeter's stool in the Honjeric 
hymn. As to the form of communion 
in the Eleusinian mysteries, see 
Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 21, 
p. 18 ed. Potter ; Arnobius, Adversus 
nationes, v. 26 ; L. R. Farnell, op. cit. 
iii. 185 sq., 195 sq. For discussions 
of the ancient evidence bearing on the 
Eleusinian mysteries it may suffice to 
refer to Chr. A. Lobeck, Aglaophajmts 
(Konigsberg, 1829), pp. 3 sqq. ; G. F. 
Schoemann, Griechische Alterthumer,'^ 



ii. 387 sqq. ; Aug. Mommsen, Heorto- 
logie (Leipsic, 1864), pp. 222 sqq. ; 
id., Feste der Stadt Athen im Altertuni 
(Leipsic, 1898), pp. 204 sqq.; P. 
Foucart, Recherches sur POrigine et 
la Nature des Mystires d' Eleusis 
(Paris, 1895) {M^moires de VAcadimie 
des Inscriptions, xxxv. ) ; id. , Les 
grands My s teres d^ Eleusis (Paris, 
1900) {Memoires de VAcadimie des 
Itiscriptiotis, xxxvii.) ; F. Lenormant 
and E. Pottier, s.v. " Eleusinia," in 
Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire 
des Antiquitis Grecques et Romaines, 
ii. 544 sqq. ; L. R. Farnell, The Cults 
of the Greek States, iii. 126 sqq. 

2 Hippolytus, Refutatio Omnium 
Haeresiu/n, v. 8, p. 162, ed. L. 
Duncker et F. G. Schneidewin (Got- 
tingen, 1859). The word which the 
poet uses to express the revelation 
(Sei^e, Hymn to Detneter, verse 474) is 
a technical one in the mysteries ; the 
full phrase was SeLKviivai to. lepd. See 
Plutarch, Akibiades, 22 ; Xenophon, 
Hellenica, vi. 3. 6 ; Isocrates, Pane- 
gyriais, 6 ; Lysias, Contra Andocidem, 
51 ; Chr. A. Lobeck, Aglaophamus, 
P- 51- 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 39 

the poet of the hymn was well acquainted with this solemn 
rite, and that he deliberately intended to explain its origin 
in precisely the same way as he explained other rites of the 
mysteries, namely by representing Demeter as having set 
the example of performing the ceremony in her own person. 
Thus myth and ritual mutually explain and confirm each 
other. The poet of the seventh century before our era 
gives us the myth — he could not without sacrilege have 
revealed the ritual : the Christian father reveals the ritual, 
and his revelation accords perfectly with the veiled hint of 
the old poet. On the whole, then, we may, with many 
modern scholars, confidently accept the statement of the 
learned Christian father Clement of Alexandria, that the 
myth of Demeter and Persephone was acted as a sacred 
drama in the mysteries of Eleusis/ 

But if the myth was acted as a part, perhaps as Demeter 
the principal part, of the most famous and solemn religious ^nd Per- 

r r r 1 o sephone 

rites of ancient Greece, we have still to enquire. What personi- 
was, after all, stripped of later accretions, the original 
kernel of the myth which appears to later ages surrounded 
and transfigured by an aureole of awe and mystery, lit up 
by some of the most brilliant rays of Grecian literature and 
art ? If we follow the indications given by our oldest 
literary authority on the subject, the author of the Homeric 
hymn to Demeter, the riddle is not hard to read ; the figures 
of the two goddesses, the mother and the daughter, resolve 
themselves into personifications of the corn.^ At least this 
appears to be fairly certain for the daughter Persephone. 

1 Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. hgie, i. 793) ; P. Foucart {Recherches 

ii. 12, p. 12 ed. Potter: At/iI) 5^ koL sur POrigitte et la Nature des Mystires 

Kdprj dpa/xa ijdt] iyeveadr)v fivariKof Kal d'Eleusis, Paris, 1895, pp. 43 sqq. ; 

TT^v irXdvrjv Kal Tr}v apwayy^v Kal t6 TT^vdos id., Les Grands Mystires d'Eleusis, 

avTotv 'EXeuffis 5q.5ovxi1. Compare Paris, 1900, p. 137); E. Rohde 

F. Lenormant, s.v. " Eleusinia," in [Psyche,^ i. 289) ; and L. R. Farnell 

Daremberg et Sa;^lio, Dictionnaire {The Cults of the Greek States, \\\. 134, 

des Antiqtiites Grecques et Romaines, 173 ^<ll\ 
iii. 578 : " Que le drame mystique des 

aventures de Dimiter et de Cori con- ^ On Demeter and Proserpine as 

stitu&t le spectacle essentiel de Vinitia- goddesses of the corn, see L. Preller, 

tion, c'est ce dont il nous semble im- Demeter und Persephone (Hamburg, 

possible de douter." A similar view 1837), pp. 315 sqq. ; and especially 

is expressed by G. F. Schoemann W. Mannhardt, Mythologische For- 

(Griechische Altertkuvier,^ ii. 402); schungen (Strasburg, 1884), pp. 202 

Preller -Robert (Griechische Mytho- sqq. 



fications of 
the corn. 



40 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



Per- 
sephone 
the seed 
sown in 
autumn 
and 

sprouting 
in spring. 



Demeter 
the old 
corn of 
last year. 



The view 
that 

Demeter 
was the 
Earth 
goddess is 
implicitly 
rejected by 
the author 
of the 
Homeric 
Hymn to 
Demeter. 



The goddess who spends three or, according to another 
version of the myth, six months of every year with the 
dead under ground and the remainder of the year with the 
Hving above ground ; ^ in whose absence the barley seed is 
hidden in the earth and the fields lie bare and fallow ; on 
whose return in spring to the upper world the corn shoots 
up from the clods and the earth is heavy with leaves and 
blossoms — this goddess can surely be nothing else than a 
mythical embodiment of the vegetation, and particularly of 
the corn, which is buried under the soil for some months of 
every winter and comes to life again, as from the grave, in 
the sprouting cornstalks and the opening flowers and foliage 
of every spring. No other reasonable and probable ex- 
planation of Persephone seems possible." And if the 
daughter goddess was a personification of the young corn 
of the present year, may not the mother goddess be a 
personification of the old corn of last year, which has given 
birth to the new crops ? The only alternative to this view 
of Demeter would seem to be to suppose that she is a 
personification of the earth, from whose broad bosom the 
corn and all other plants spring up, and of which accordingly 
they may appropriately enough be regarded as the daughters. 
This view of the original nature of Demeter has indeed been 
taken by some writers, both ancient and modern,^ and it is 

1 According to the author of the 
Homeric Hymn to Demeter (verses 
398 sqq., 445 sqq.) and Apollodorus 
(Bibliot/ieca, i. 5. 3) the time which 
Persephone had to spend under ground 
was one third of the year ; according 
to Ovid (Fasti, iv. 613 sq. ; Meta- 
viorphoses, v. 564 sqq.) and Hyginus 
{Fabtilae, 146) it was one half. 

^ This view of the myth of Perse- 
phone is, for example, accepted and 
clearly stated by L. Preller [Demeter 
7ind Pet-sephone, pp. 128 sq.). 

^ See, for example, Firmicus Mater- 
nus, De errore profanarnm religiomnn, 
17.3: " Frugum substantiam vohmt 
Proserpinam dicere, quia fruges 
hominibus cum seri coeperint prostait. 
Terram ipsam Ccrerem iiomitiant, 
nomenhocagerendisfructibusmutiiati": 
L. Preller, Deineter tind Persephone, 
p. 1 28, -^ Der ErdbodeJt 7iiiyd Deiueter, 



die Vegetation Persephone.'''' Francois 
Lenormant, again, held that Demeter 
was originally a personification of the 
earth regarded as divine, but he 
admitted that from the time of the 
Homeric poems downwards she was 
sharply distinguished from Ge, the 
earth-goddess proper. See Daremberg 
et Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiquites 
Grecqties et Romaines, s.v. "Ceres," 
ii. 1022 sq. Some light might be 
thrown on the question whether 
Demeter was an Earth Goddess or a 
Corn Goddess, if we could be sure of 
the etymology of her name, which has 
been variously explained as " Earth 
Mother " (A'^ P-'hT'np equivalent to Vt\ 
fj.-qTrip) and as " Barley Mother" (from 
an alleged Cretan word briai " barley ": 
see Etymologicum Mag7titm, s.v. Ar]ib, 
pp. 263 sq. ). The former etymology 
has been the most popular ; the latter 



s 

n DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 41 

one which can be reasonably maintained. But it appears 
to have been rejected by the author of the Homeric hymn 
to Demeter, for he not only distinguishes Demeter from the 
personified Earth but places the two in the sharpest opposi- 
tion to each other. He tells us that it was Earth who, in 
accordance with the will of Zeus and to please Pluto, lured 
Persephone to her doom by causing the narcissuses to grow 
which tempted the young goddess to stray far beyond the 
reach of help in the lush meadow.^ Thus Demeter of the 
hymn, far from being identical with the Earth-goddess, must 
have regarded that divinity as her worst enemy, since it 
was to her insidious wiles that she owed the loss of her 
daughter. But if the Demeter of the hymn cannot have 
been a personification of the earth, the only alternative 
apparently is to conclude that she was a personification of 
the corn. 

With this conclusion all the indications of the hymn- The Yellow 
writer seem to harmonise. He certainly represents Demeter ^^™'^'""' 
as the goddess by whose power and at whose pleasure dess who 
the corn either grows or remains hidden in the ground ; thg^jpg 
and to what deity can such powers be so fittingly ascribed grain from 
as to the goddess of the corn ? He calls Demeter yellow at^the^ 
and tells how her yellow tresses flowed down on her threshing- 
shoulders ; ^ could any colour be more appropriate with 
which to paint the divinity of the yellow grain ? The same 
identification of Demeter with the ripe, the yellow corn is 
made even more clearly by a still older poet. Homer 
himself, or at all events the author of the fifth book of the 
Iliad. There we read : " And even as the wind carries the 
chaff about the sacred threshing-floors, when men are 

is maintained by W. Mannhardt. See no satisfactory derivation of the first 

L. Preller, Demeter und Persephone, syllable of Demeter's name has yet 

PP- 3^7) 366 sqq. ; F. G. Welcker, been proposed. Accordingly I prefer 

Griechische Gotlerlehre, i. 385 sqq. ; to base no argument on an analysis of 

Preller-Robert, Griechische Mythologie, the name, and to rest my interpretation 

i. 747 note ^ ; Kern, in Pauly-Wissowa's of the goddess entirely on her myth, 

Real-Encyclopddie derclassischen Alter- ritual, and representations in art. 

tumswissenschaft, iv. 2713; W. Mann- Etymology is at the best a very slippery 

hardt, Mythologische Forschungen, pp. ground on which to rear mythological 

281 sqq. But my learned friend the theories. 

Rev. Professor T. H. Moulton informs 1 r^- < 7-1 / c „ 

,,,-',. '■ Hymn to Demeter, b sqq. . 

me that both etymologies are open to 

serious philological objections, and that ^ Hymn to Demeter, 279, 302. 



42 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

winnowing, what time yellow Demeter sifts the corn from 

the chaff on the hurrying blast, so that the heaps of chaff 

grow white below, so were the Achaeans whitened above by 

the cloud of dust which the hoofs of the horses spurned to 

the brazen heaven." ^ Here the yellow Demeter who sifts 

the grain from the chaff at the threshing-floor can hardly be 

any other than the goddess of the yellow corn ; she cannot 

be the Earth-goddess, for what has the Earth-goddess to do 

with the grain and the chaff blown about a threshing-floor ? 

With this interpretation it agrees that elsewhere Homer 

speaks of men eating " Demeter's corn " ; " and still more 

definitely Hesiod speaks of " the annual store of food, which 

the earth bears, Demeter's corn," ^ thus distinguishing the 

goddess of the corn from the earth which bears it. Still 

more clearly does a later Greek poet personify the corn as 

Demeter when, in allusion to the time of the corn-reaping, 

he says that then " the sturdy swains cleave Demeter limb 

The Green from limb." ^ And just as the ripe or yellow corn was 

Demeter personified as the Yellow Demeter, so the unripe or green 

dessofthe com was personified as the Green Demeter. In that 

gieencorn. character the goddess had sanctuaries at Athens and other 

places ; sacrifices were appropriately offered to Green 

Demeter in spring when the earth was growing green with 

the fresh vegetation, and the victims included sows big 

with young,^ which no doubt were intended not merely to 

symbolise but magically to promote the abundance of the 

crops. 

The cereals In Greek the various kinds of corn were called by the 

"Demeter's general name of " Demeter's fruits," ^ just as in Latin they 

fruits." were called the " fruits or gifts of Ceres," "^ an expression 

1 Homer, Iliad, v. 499.504. The Cults of the Greek States, iii. 

2 Iliad, xiii. 322, xxi. 76. 312 sq. 

3 Hesiod, Works and Days, 31 sq. ^ Herodotus, i. 193, iv. 198; 
^ Quoted by Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, Xenophon, Helknica, vi. 3. 6 ; Aelian, 

66. Historia Anifiialiitm, xvii. 16; Cor- 

^ Pausanias, i. 22. 3 with my note ; nutus, Theologiae Graecae Compendium, 

Dittenberger, Sylloge Insn-iptionum 28 ; Geoponica, i. 12. 36 ; Paroemio- 

Graecartan,'^ No. 615 ; J. de Prott et graphi Graeci, ed. Leutsch et Schnei- 

L. Ziehen, Leges G}-aecorum Sacrae, dewin, Appendix iv. 20 (vol. i. p. 439). 

Fasciculus I. (Leipsic, 1896) p. 49 ; ^ Cerealia in Pliny, Nat. Hist. 

Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Com- xxiii. i ; Cerealia munera and Cerealia 

pendium, 28 ; Scholiast on Sophocles, dona in Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi. 

Oedipus Colon. 1600 ; L. R. Farnell, 121 sq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 43 

which survives in the English word cereals. Tradition ran 
that before Demeter's time men neither cultivated corn nor 
tilled the ground, but roamed the mountains and woods in 
search of the wild fruits which the earth produced spon- 
taneously from her womb for their subsistence. The 
tradition clearly implies not only that Demeter was the 
goddess of the corn, but that she was different from and 
younger than the goddess of the Earth, since it is expressly 
affirmed that before Demeter's time the earth existed and 
supplied mankind with nourishment in the shape of wild 
herbs, grasses, flowers and fruits.^ 

In ancient art Demeter and Persephone are characterised Corn and 
as goddesses of the corn by the crowns of corn which they p"pp'^s ^\ 

o ■' •' symbols of 

wear on their heads and by the stalks of corn which they Demeter. 
hold in their hands.^ Theocritus describes a smiling image 
of Demeter standing by a heap of yellow grain on a 
threshing-floor and grasping sheaves of barley and poppies in 
both her hands.^ Indeed corn and poppies singly or together 
were a frequent symbol of the goddess, as we learn not only 
from the testimony of ancient writers* but from many existing 
monuments of classical art.'' The naturalness of the symbol 

^ Libanius, ed. J. J. Reiske, vol. iv. vi. 104. 8 ; W. Mannhardt, Mytholo- 

p. 367, Corinth. Oratio : Ovk a!>6is gische Forschiingen, p. 235 ; J. Over- 

T\}t.Q>v &Kapiros 17 yij SoKel yeyovivai ; beck, Griechische Kiaistmythologie, 

o\i TrdXtv 6 irpb Ari/j.7]Tpos eli'ai /3tos ; iii. (Leipsic, 1873-1878) pp. 420, 

KaL Toi Kol irp6 ATj^Tjrpos al yewpylai 42 1, 453, 479) 4S0, 502, 505, 507, 

H.kv ovK ^crav ■ ovoi dporoi, avrixpvToi 514, 522, 523, 524, 525 sq. • L. R. 

5^ /Sordcat Kal iroai • Kal ttoWo, flx^'' Farnell, TAe Cults of the Greek Stales, 

els ffCxiT-qpiav avdpihwwv avrocrx^Sia 8.vdrj iii. 217 sqq., 220 sq., 222, 226, 232, 

i) yri iiBLvovaa Kal Kvovaa irpb rdv 233, 237, 260, 265, 268, 269 sq., 

riidpwv TO, dypia. 'EirXavQvTO p.ti>, 271. 

dW OVK eir' dWrjXovs ■ dXtrij Kal 6prj ^ Theocritus, Idyl. vii. 155 sqq. 

TTcpLrfaav, ^TjTovvTes avrd/iaTov Tpo<pr]v. That the sheaves which the goddess 

In this passage, which no doubt repre- grasped were of barley is proved by 

sents the common Greek view on the verses 31-34 of the poem, 

subject, the earth is plainly personified * Eusebius, Praeparatio Evaugelii, 

[ihSivovaa Kal Kvovcra), which points the iii. n. 5 ! Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae 

antithesis between her and the goddess Compendium, 28, p. 56, ed. C. Lang ; 

of the corn. Diodorus Siculus also Virgil, Georg. i. 212, with the com- 

says (v. 68) that corn grew wild with ment of Servius. 

the other plants before Demeter taught ^ See the references to the works of 
men to cultivate it and to sow the Overbeck and Farnell above. For ex- 
seed, ample, a fine statue at Copenhagen, in 

2 Ovid, Fasti, iv. 616; Eusebius, the style of the age of Phidias, repre- 

Praeparatio Evaugelii, iii. 11. 5; sents Demeter holding poppies and ears 

Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Com- of corn in her left hand. See Farnell, 

pendium, 28; A7ithologia Palatina, op. cit. iii. 268, with plate xxviii. 



44 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Per- 
sephone 
portraj'ed 
as the 
young corn 
sprouting 
from the 
ground. 



can be doubted by no one who has seen — and who has not 
seen ? — a field of yellow corn bespangled thick with scarlet 
poppies ; and we need not resort to the shifts of an ancient 
mythologist, who explained the symbolism of the poppy in 
Demeter's hand by comparing the globular shape of the 
poppy to the roundness of our globe, the unevenness of its 
edges to hills and valleys, and the hollow interior of the 
scarlet flower to the caves and dens of the earth.^ If only 
students would study the little black and white books of 
men less and the great rainbow-tinted book of nature more ; 
if they would more frequently exchange the heavy air and 
the dim light of libraries for the freshness and the sunshine 
of the open sky ; if they would oftener unbend their minds 
by rural walks between fields of waving corn, beside rivers 
rippling by under grey willows, or down green lanes, where 
the hedges are white with the hawthorn bloom or red with 
wild roses, they might sometimes learn more about primitive 
religion than can be gathered from many dusty volumes, in 
which wire-drawn theories are set forth with all the tedious 
parade of learning. 

Nowhere, perhaps, in the monuments of Greek art is the 
character of Persephone as a personification of the young 
corn sprouting in spring portrayed more gracefully and more 
truly than on a coin of Lampsacus of the fourth century 
before our era. On it we see the goddess in the very act 
of rising from the earth. " Her face is upraised ; in her 
hand are three ears of corn, and others together with grapes 
are springing behind her shoulder. Complete is here the 
identification of the goddess and her attribute : she is 
embowered amid the ears of growing corn, and like it half 
buried in the ground. She does not make the corn and 
vine grow, but she is the corn and vine growing, and 
returning again to the face of the earth after lying hidden in 
its depths. Certainly the artist who designed this beautiful 
figure thoroughly understood Hellenic religion." " 

As the goddess who first bestowed corn on mankind 
and taught them to sow and cultivate it,^ Demeter was 



' Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Com- 
pendium, 28, p. 56 ed. C. Lang. 

- Percy Gardner, Types of Greek 



C(7?« J' (Cambridge, 1883), p. 174, with 
plate X. No. 25. 

^ Diodorus Siculus, v. 68. i. 



sowing. 



11 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 45 

naturally invoked and propitiated by farmers before they oemeter 
undertook the various operations of the agricultural year, '"voked 
In autumn, when he heard the sonorous trumpeting of the pitiate^by 
cranes, as they winged their way southward in vast flocks p'"^^'^ 
high overhead, the Greek husbandman knew that the rains before the 
were near and that the time of ploughing was at hand ; but ^"'""^"'''^ 
before he put his hand to the plough he prayed to Under- 
ground Zeus and to Holy Demeter for a heavy crop of 
Demeter's sacred corn. Then he guided the ox-drawn 
plough down the field, turning up the brown earth with the 
share, while a swain followed close behind with a hoe, who 
covered up the seed as fast as it fell to protect it from the 
voracious birds that fluttered and twittered at the plough- 
tail.^ But while the ordinary Greek farmer took the signal 
for ploughing from the clangour of the cranes, Hesiod and 
other writers who aimed at greater exactness laid it down 
as a rule that the ploughing should begin with the autumnal 
setting of the Pleiades in the morning, which in Hesiod's 
time fell on the twenty-sixth of October.^ The month 
in which the Pleiades set in the morning was generally 
recognised by the Greeks as the month of sowing ; it 
corresponded apparently in part to our October, in part to 

1 Hesiod, Works and Days, 44S- 1896), pp. iioj^. 
474 ; Epictetus, Dissertationes, iii. 

21. 12. For the autumnal migration ^ Hesiod, Works ami Days, 3833-^., 

and clangour of the cranes as the 6 1 5-6 17 ; Aratus, Phaenomena, 254- 

signal for sowing, see Aristophanes, 267 ; L. Ideler, Handbuch der mathe- 

Birds, 711; compare Theognis, 1197 ma(ische7i titid technischen Chi-onologie 

sqq. But the Greeks also ploughed in (Berlin, 1825-1826), i. 241 sq. Kc- 

spring (Hesiod, £7/. rzV. 462; Xenophon, cording to Pliny {Nat. Hist, xviii. 49) 

Oecotiom. 16) ; indeed they ploughed wheat, barley, and all other cereals 

thrice in the year (Theophrastus, were sown in Greece and Asia from 

Historia Piantarum, vii. 13. 6). At the time of the autumn setting of the 

the approach of autumn the cranes of Pleiades. This date for ploughing 

northern Europe collect about rivers and sowing is confirmed by Hippo- 

and lakes, and after much trumpeting crates and other medical writers. See 

set out in enormous bands on their W. Smith's Dictionary of Greek ana 

southward journey to the tropical Roman Antiquities,'^ i. 234. Latin 

regions of Africa and India. In early writers prescribe the same date for the 

spring they return northward, and sowing of wheat. See Virgil, Georg. 

their flocks may be descried passing at i. 2.\()-2.i(> ; Columella, De re rustica, 

a marvellous heiglit overhead or halting ii. 8 ; Pliny, Nat. Hist, xviii. 223-226. 

to rest in the meadows beside some In Columella's time the Pleiades, he 

broad river. The bird emits its tells us (I.e.), set in the morning of 

trumpet-like note both on the ground October 24th of the Julian calendar, 

and on the wing. See Alfred Newton, which would correspond to the October 

Dictionary of Birds (London, 1893- 1 6th of our reckoning. 



46 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Boeotian 
festival of 
mourning 
for the 
descent 
of Per- 
sephone 
at the 
autumnal 
sowing. 



Thank- 
offerings of 
ripe grain 
presented 
by Greek 
farmers to 
Demeter 
after the 
liarvest. 
Theo- 
critus's 



our November. The Athenians called it Pyanepsion ; the 
Boeotians named it significantly Damatrius, that is, 
Demeter's month, and they celebrated a feast of mourning 
because, says Plutarch, who as a Boeotian speaks with 
authority on such a matter, Demeter was then in mourning 
for the descent of Persephone.^ Is it possible to express 
more clearly the true original nature of Persephone as the 
corn-seed which has just been buried in the earth ? The 
obvious, the almost inevitable conclusion did not escape 
Plutarch, He tells us that the mournful rites which were 
held at the time of the autumn sowing nominally com- 
memorated the actions of deities, but that the real sadness 
was for the fruits of the earth, some of which at that season 
dropped of themselves and vanished from the trees, while 
others in the shape of seed were committed with anxious 
thoughts to the ground by men, who scraped the earth 
and then huddled it up over the seed, just as if they were 
burying and mourning for the dead.^ Surely this inter- 
pretation of the custom and of the myth of Persephone is 
not only beautiful but true. 

And just as the Greek husbandman prayed to the Corn 
Goddess when he committed the seed, with anxious fore- 
bodings, to the furrows, so after he had reaped the harvest 
and brought back the yellow sheaves with rejoicing to the 
threshing-floor, he paid the bountiful goddess her dues in 
the form of a thank-offering of golden grain. Theocritus 
has painted for us in glowing colours a picture of a 

wise unknown. See W. Froehner, 
Musie Nationale du Louvre, Les In- 
sc7-iptions Grecques (Paris, 1880), pp. 
50 sq. Greek inscriptions found 
at Mantinea refer to a worship of 
Demeter and Persephone, who are 
known to have had a sanctuary there 
(Pausanias, viii. 9. 2). The people of 
Mantinea celebrated "mysteries of the 
goddess " and a festival called the 
koragia, which seems to have repre- 
sented the return of Persephone from 
the lower world. See W. Immerwahr, 
Die Kulte ntid My then Arkadiens 
(Leipsic, 1891), pp. loo sq. ; S. 
Reinach, Traits d^ Epigraphie Grecque 
(Paris, 1885), pp. 141 sqq. ; Hesy- 
chius, s.v. Kopdyeif. 



1 Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 69. 

■^ Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 70. 
Similarly Cornutus says that " Hades 
is fabled to have carried off Demeter's 
daughter because the seed vanishes 
for a time under the earth," and he 
mentions that a festival of Demeter 
was celebrated at the time of sowing 
(Theologiae Graecae Compendium, 28, 
pp. 54, 55 ed. C. Lang). In a fragment 
of a Greek calendar which is preserved 
in the Louvre " the ascent (dcajSacrts) of 
the goddess " is dated the seventh day 
of the month Dius, and " the descent or 
setting (5(''crts) of the goddess " is dated 
the fourth day of the month Hephaes- 
tius, a month which seems to be other- 



II DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 47 

rustic harvest -home, as it fell on a bright autumn day descrip- 
some two thousand years ago in the little Greek island of ^"^" °^ 
Cos.^ The poet tells us how he went with two friends home in 
from the city to attend a festival given by farmers, who *^^' 
were offering first-fruits to Demeter from the store of 
barley with which she had filled their barns. The day 
was warm, indeed so hot that the very lizards, which 
love to bask and run about in the sun, were slumbering in 
the crevices of the stone-walls, and not a lark soared 
carolling into the blue vault of heaven. Yet despite the 
great heat there were everywhere signs of autumn. " All 
things," says the poet, " smelt of summer, but smelt of 
autumn too." Indeed the day was really autumnal ; for a 
goat-herd who met the friends on their way to the rural 
merry-making, asked them whether they were bound for the 
treading of the grapes in the wine-presses. And when they 
had reached their destination and reclined at ease in the 
dappled shade of over-arching poplars and elms, with the 
babble of a neighbouring fountain, the buzz of the cicalas, 
the hum of bees, and the cooing of doves in their ears, the 
ripe apples and pears rolled in the grass at their feet and 
the branches of the wild-plum trees were bowed down to the 
earth with the weight of their purple fruit. So couched on 
soft beds of fragrant lentisk they passed the sultry hours 
singing ditties alternately, while a rustic image of Demeter, 
to whom the honours of the day were paid, stood smiling 
beside a heap of yellow grain on the threshing-floor, with 
corn-stalks and poppies in her hands. 

In this description the time of year when the harvest- The 
home was celebrated is clearly marked. Apart from the home de- 
mention of the ripe apples, pears, and plums, the reference scribed by 

'^^ ^^ -T^i V- 1 1- Theocritus 

to the treading of the grapes is decisive. The Greeks gather feii in 
and press the grapes in the first half of October,^ and autumn, 
accordingly it is to this date that the harvest-festival de- 
scribed by Theocritus must be assigned. At the present 

1 Theocritus, Idyl. vii. Arcturus is a morning star, which in 

the poet's age was on the 1 8th of 

2 In ancient Greece the vintage September. See Hesiod, Works and 
seems to have fallen somewhat earlier ; Days, 609 sqq. ; L. Ideler, Handbuch 
for Hesiod bids the husbandman gather der mathernatischen tmd technischen 
the ripe clusters at the time when Chronologie, i. 247. 



48 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

day in Greece the maize-harvest immediately precedes the 
vintage, the grain being reaped and garnered at the end of 
September. TravelHng in rural districts of Argolis and 
Arcadia at that time of the year you pass from time to time 
piles of the orange-coloured cobs laid up ready to be shelled, 
or again heaps of the yellow grain beside the pods. But 
maize was unknown to the ancient Greeks, who, like 
their modern descendants, reaped their wheat and barley 
crops much earlier in the summer, usually from the end of 
April till June.^ However, we may conclude that the day 
immortalised by Theocritus was one of those autumn days 
of great heat and effulgent beauty which in Greece may 
occur at any time up to the very verge of winter. I 
remember such a day at Panopeus on the borders of Phocis 
and Boeotia. It was the first of November, yet the sun 
shone in cloudless splendour and the heat was so great, that 
when I had examined the magnificent remains of ancient 
Greek fortification-walls which crown the summit of the 
hill, it was delicious to repose on a grassy slope in the shade 
of some fine holly-oaks and to inhale the sweet scent of the 
wild thyme, which perfumed all the air. But it was summer's 
farewell. Next morning the weather had completely changed. 
A grey November sky lowered sadly overhead, and grey 
mists hung like winding-sheets on the lower slopes of 
the barren mountains which shut in the fatal plain of 
Chaeronea. 
The Greeks Thus we may infer that in the rural districts of ancient 
seem to Greece farmers offered their first-fruits of the barley harvest 

nave de- •' 

ferred the to Dcmetcr in autumn about the time when the grapes were 

firsT-'fruit*s being troddcu in the wine-presses and the ripe apples and 

till the pears littered the ground in the orchards. At first sight the 

order"to " lateness of the festival in the year is surprising ; for in the 

propitiate lowlauds of Greece at the present day barley is reaped at 

Goddess the end of April and wheat in May,^ and in antiquity the 

at the time of harvest would seem not to have been very different, 

moment of t t • i i_ • i 111 1 1 • 1 1 1 

ploughing lor Hesiod bids the husbandman put the sickle to the corn 
and sow- ^^ ^]^g morning rising of the Pleiades,^ which in his time 

mg, when ° ° 

1 See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, p. 190 note 2. 
Edition, p. 190 note-. 

2 See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second ^ Hesiod, Works and Days, 383 sq. 



s 

n DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 49 

took place on the eleventh of May/ But if the harvest was her help 
reaped in spring or early summer, why defer the offerings u74nti 
of corn to the Corn Goddess until the middle of autumn ? needed. 
The reason for the delay is not, so far as I am aware, 
explained by any ancient author, and accordingly it must 
remain for us a matter of conjecture. I surmise that the 
reason may have been a calculation on the part of the 
practical farmer that the best time to propitiate the Corn 
Goddess was not after harvest, when he had got all that was 
to be got out of her, but immediately before ploughing and 
sowing, when he had everything to hope from her good-will 
and everything to fear from her displeasure. When he had 
reaped his corn, and the sheaves had been safely garnered 
in his barns, he might, so to say, snap his fingers at the 
Corn Goddess. What could she do for him on the bare 
stubble-field which lay scorched and baking under the fierce 
rays of the sun all the long rainless summer through ? But 
matters wore a very different aspect when, with the shorten- 
ing and cooling of the days, he began to scan the sky for 
clouds ^ and to listen for the cries of the cranes as they flew 
southward, heralding by their trumpet-like notes the approach 
of the autumnal rains. Then he knew that the time had 
come to break up the ground that it might receive the seed 
and be fertilised by the refreshing water of heaven ; then he 
bethought him of the Corn Goddess once more and brought 
forth from the grange a share of the harvested corn with 
which to woo her favour and induce her to quicken the grain 
which he was about to commit to the earth. On this theory 
the Greek offering of first-fruits was prompted not so much 
by gratitude for past favours as by a shrewd eye to favours to 
come, and perhaps this interpretation of the custom does no 
serious injustice to the cool phlegmatic temper of the bucolic 
mind, which is more apt to be moved by considerations of profit 
than by sentiment. At all events the reasons suggested for 
delaying the harvest-festival accord perfectly with the natural 
conditions and seasons of farming in Greece. For in that 
country the summer is practically rainless, and during the 

^ L. Ideler, Hattdbuck der mathe- 17, tireiSav yap 6 fieTOTnopLvbs XP^^°^ 

matischen tind technischen Chronologic, i\drj, -rravTes wov ol AvOpuiroL wpos rbv 

i. 242. 0iov airo^X^irovtnv, oTrore ^pi^as rrjv 

'^ Compare Xenophon, Oecononiicits, yriv dcprjafL avrovs (nreipeiv. 
PT. v. VOL. I E 



50 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



The fes- 
tival of the 
Proerosia 
( ' ' Before 
the Plough- 
ing") held 
at Eleusis 
in honour 
of 
Demeter. 



long months of heat and drought the cultivation of the two 
ancient cereals, barley and wheat, is at a standstill. The 
first rains of autumn fall about the middle of October,^ and 
that was the Greek farmer's great time for ploughing and 
sowing.'^ Hence we should expect him to make his offering 
of first-fruits to the Corn Goddess shortly before he ploughed 
and sowed, and this expectation is entirely confirmed by 
the date which we have inferred for the offering from the 
evidence of Theocritus. Thus the sacrifice of barley to 
Demeter in the autumn would seem to have been not so 
much a thank-offering as a bribe judiciously administered 
to her at the very moment of all the year when her services 
were most urgently wanted. 

When with the progress of civilisation a number of 
petty agricultural communities have merged into a single 
state dependent for its subsistence mainly on the culti- 
vation of the ground, it commonly happens that, though 
every farmer continues to perform for himself the simple old 
rites designed to ensure the blessing of the gods on his 
crops, the government undertakes to celebrate similar, though 
more stately and elaborate, rites on behalf of the whole 
people, lest the neglect of public worship should draw down 
on the country the wrath of the offended deities. Hence it 
comes about that, for all their pomp and splendour, the 
national festivals of such states are often merely magnified 
and embellished copies of homely rites and uncouth ob- 
servances carried out by rustics in the open fields, in barns, 
and on threshing-floors. In ancient Egypt the religion of 
Isis and Osiris furnishes examples of solemnities which have 
been thus raised from the humble rank of rural festivities 
to the dignity of national celebrations ; ^ and in ancient 
Greece a like development may be traced in the religion of 
Demeter. If the Greek ploughman prayed to Demeter and 
Underground Zeus for a good crop before he put his hand 
to the plough in autumn, the authorities of the Athenian 
state celebrated about the same time and for the same 
purpose a public festival in honour of Demeter at Eleusis. 



' August Mommsen, Feste der Stadt 
Athen im Altertum, p. 193. 
2 See above, pp. 44 sqq. 



^ See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 
Edition, pp. 283 sqq. 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 51 

It was called the Proerosia, which signifies " Before the 
Ploughing " ; and as the festival was dedicated to her, 
Demeter herself bore the name of Proerosia. Tradition ran 
that once on a time the whole world was desolated by a 
famine, and that to remedy the evil the Pythian oracle bade 
the Athenians offer the sacrifice of the Proerosia on behalf 
of all men. They did so, and the famine ceased accordingly. 
Hence to testify their gratitude for the deliverance people 
sent the first-fruits of their harvest from all quarters to 
Athens.^ 

But the exact date at which the Proerosia or Festival The 
before Ploughing took place is somewhat uncertain, and en- ^^"^^"^^^ 

° ° ^ _ ' seems to 

quirers are divided in opinion as to whether it fell before or have been 
after the Great Mysteries, which began on the fifteenth or the^piou^°^- 
sixteenth of Boedromion, a month corresponding roughly to ing in 
our September. Another name for the festival was Proarc- 5^ after 
turia, that is, " Before Arcturus," ^ which points to a date the Great 

Mvstcrics 

either before the middle of September, when Arcturus is a in'sep- 
morning star, or before the end of October, when Arcturus teniber, 
is an evening star.^ In favour of the earlier date it may be 
said, first, that the morning phase of Arcturus was well 
known and much observed, because it marked the middle of 
autumn, whereas little use was made of the evening phase of 
Arcturus for the purpose of dating ; * and, second, that in an 
official Athenian inscription the Festival before Ploughing 
{Proerosia) is mentioned immediately before the Great Mys- 

' Scholiast on Aristophanes, Knights, tween the similar Greek words for plague 

720; Suidas, s.vv. elpfCTLwvTj and and famine (\oifi6s and Xt-fids). That 

wporjpocrlai. ; Etymologiciim Afagnum, in the original version famine and not 

Hesychius, and Photius, Lexicon, s.v. plague must have been alleged as the 

■n-por)p6<jia ; Plutarch, Septem Sapientitm reason for instituting the Proerosia, 

Convivutm, 15 ; Dittenberger, Sylloge appears plainly from the reference of 

Inscriptiomtm Graecanim,'^ No. 521, the name to ploughing, from the dedi- 

line 29, and No. 628 ; Aug. cation of the festival to Demeter, and 

Mommsen, Fesie der Stadt Athen im from the offerings of first-fruits ; for 

Altertttm (Leipsic, 1898), pp. 192 these circumstances, though quite ap- 

sqq. The inscriptions prove that the propriate to ceremonies designed to 

Proerosia was held at Eleusis and that stay or avert dearth and famine, would 

it was distinct from the Great Mysteries, be quite inappropriate in the case of 

being mentioned separately from them. a plague. 

Some of the ancients accounted for 2 Hesychius, s.v. vpovpoa-ia. 

the origin of the festival by a universal ... ,^ r ^ j^ <r, j4 

, • » J f • 1 r ■ ^ August Mommsen, FesU der Stadt 

plague instead of a universal famine. , , P , , . 

V, f., ■ . r ..V . j„„Kt Athen im Altertum, p. 194. 

But this version of the story no doubt ' ^ 

arose from the common confusion be- * August Mommsen, I.e. 



S2 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



CHAP. 



However, 
the date of 
the Great 
Mysteries, 
being 

determined 
by the 
lunar 
calendar, 
must have 
fluctuated 
in the solar 
year ; 
whereas 
the date 
of the 
Proerosia, 
being 

determined 
by observa- 
tion of 
Arcturus, 
must have 
been fixed. 



teries.^ On the other hand, in favour of the later date, it may- 
be said that as the autumnal rains in Greece set in about the 
middle of October, the latter part of that month would be a 
more suitable time for a ceremony at the opening of ploughing 
than the middle of September, when the soil is still parched 
with the summer drought ; and, second, that this date is con- 
firmed by a Greek inscription of the fourth or third century 
B.C., found at Eleusis, in which the Festival before Ploughing 
is apparently mentioned in the month of Pyanepsion im- 
mediately before the festival of the Pyanepsia, which was 
held on the seventh day of that month,^ It is difficult to 
decide between these conflicting arguments, but on the whole 
I incline, not without hesitation, to agree with some eminent 
modern authorities in placing the Festival before Ploughing 
in Pyanepsion (October) after the Mysteries, rather than in 
Boedromion (September) before the Mysteries.^ However, we 
must bear in mind that as the Attic months, like the Greek 
months generally, were lunar,^ their position in the solar year 
necessarily varied from year to year, and though these varia- 
tions were periodically corrected by intercalation, nevertheless 
the beginning of each Attic month sometimes diverged by 
several weeks from the beginning of the corresponding 
month to which we equate if^ From this it follows that the 
Great Mysteries, which were always dated by the calendar 
month, must have annually shifted their place somewhat in 
the solar year ; whereas the Festival before Ploughing, if it was 
indeed dated either by the morning or by the evening phase 
of Arcturus, must have occupied a fixed place in the solar 
year. Hence it appears to be not impossible that the Great 
Mysteries, oscillating to and fro with the inconstant moon, 



' Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum 
Graecarum^ No. 521, lines 29 sqq. 

2 Dittenberger, Sylloge htscriptiontim 
Graecamm ^ No. 628. 

2 The view that the Festival before 
Ploughing (/'r^(?;-(7j?a) fell in Pyanepsion 
is accepted by W. Mannhardt and W. 
Dittenberger. See W. Mannhardt, 
Antike IVald- und Feldkulte (Berlin, 
1877), pp. 238 sq. ; id., Mythologische 
Forschungen, p. 258 ; Dittenberger, 
Sylloge Insc7-iptmium Graecariim^^ 
note 2 on Inscr. No. 628 (vol. ii. pp. 



423 sq.). The view that the Festival 
before Ploughing fell in Boedromion 
is maintained by August Mommsen. 
See his Heortologie (Leipsic, 1864), 
pp. 218 sqq. ; id,, Feste der Stadt 
Athen im Altertum (Leipsic, 1898), 
pp. 192 sqq. 

* See below, p. 82. 

5 L. Ideler, Handbuch der mathe- 
matischen und technischen Chronologic 
(Berlin, 1825-1826), i. 292 sq. ; com- 
pare August Mommsen, Chronologie 
(Leipsic, 1883), pp. 58 sq. 



I 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 53 

may sometimes have fallen before and sometimes after the 
Festival before Ploughing, which apparently always remained 
true to the constant star. At least this possibility, which seems 
to have been overlooked by previous enquirers, deserves to 
be taken into account. It is a corollary from the shifting 
dates of the lunar months that the official Greek calendar, in 
spite of its appearance of exactness, really furnished the 
ancient farmer with little trustworthy guidance as to the 
proper seasons for conducting the various operations of agri- 
culture ; and he was well advised in trusting to various 
natural timekeepers, such as the rising and setting of the 
constellations, the arrival and departure of the migratory 
birds, the flowering of certain plants,^ the ripening of fruits, 
and the setting in of the rains, rather than to the fallacious 
indications of the public calendar. It is by natural time- 
keepers, and not by calendar months, that Hesiod determines 
the seasons of the farmer's year in the poem which is the 
oldest existing treatise on husbandry." 

Just as the ploughman's prayer to Demeter, before he Offeringsof 
drove the share through the clods of the field, was taken up fruits of the 
and reverberated, so to say, with a great volume of sound barley and 
in the public prayers which the Athenian state annually Demeter 
offered to the goddess before the ploughing on behalf of the ^"^ p^*"- 

° r- o o sephone at 

whole world, so the simple first-fruits of barley, presented to Eieusis. 
the rustic Demeter under the dappled shade of rustling 
poplars and elms on the threshing-floor in Cos, were repeated 
year by year on a grander scale in the first-fruits of the 
barley and wheat harvest, which were presented to the Corn 
Mother and the Corn Maiden at Eieusis, not merely by 
every husbandman in Attica, but by all the allies and 
subjects of Athens far and near, and even by many 
free Greek communities beyond the sea. The reason 
why year by year these offerings of grain poured from 
far countries into the public granaries at Eieusis, was 

1 For example, Theophrastus notes The poet indeed refers {yi'. 765 sqq.) 

that squills flowered thrice a year, and to days of the month as proper times 

that each flowering marked the time for engaging in certain tasks ; but such 

for one of the three ploughings. See references are always simply to days 

Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum, v\\. of the lunar month and apply equally 

1 3. 6. to every month ; they are never to days 

- Hesiod, Works and Days, 383 sqq. as dates in the solar year. 



54 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

the widespread belief that the gift of corn had been first 
bestowed by Demeter on the Athenians and afterwards 
disseminated by them among all mankind through the 
agency of Triptolemus, who travelled over the world in 
his dragon-drawn car teaching all peoples to plough the 
earth and to sow the seed/ In the fifth century before our 
era the legend was celebrated by Sophocles in a play called 
Triptolemus, in which he represented Demeter instructing 
the hero to carry the seed of the fruits which she had 
bestowed on men to all the coasts of Southern Italy,^ from 
which we may infer that the cities of Magna Graecia were 
among the number of those that sent the thank-offering of 
barley and wheat every year to Athens. Again, in the 
fourth century before our era Xenophon represents Callias, 
the braggart Eleusinian Torchbearer, addressing the 
Lacedaemonians in a set speech, in which he declared 
that " Our ancestor Triptolemus is said to have bestowed the 
seed of Demeter's corn on the Peloponese before any other 
land. How then," he asked with pathetic earnestness, *' can 
it be right that you should come to ravage the corn of the 
men from whom you received the seed ? " ^ Again, writing 
isocrates in the fourth century before our era Isocrates relates with 
offerino^s of ^ swcU of patriotic pride how, in her search for her lost 
first-fruits daughter Persephone, the goddess Demeter came to Attica 
and gave to the ancestors of the Athenians the two greatest 
of all gifts, the gift of the corn and the gift of the mysteries, 
of which the one reclaimed men from the life of beasts and 
the other held out hopes to them of a blissful eternity beyond 
the grave. The antiquity of the tradition, the orator pro- 
ceeds to say, was no reason for rejecting it, but quite the 
contrary it furnished a strong argument in its favour, for 
what many affirmed and all had heard might be accepted as 
trustworthy. " And moreover," he adds, " we are not driven 
to rest our case merely on the venerable age of the tradition 
we can appeal to stronger evidence in its support. For 
most of the cities send us every year the first-fruits of the 
corn as a memorial of that ancient benefit, and when any of 

1 See below, p. 72. 3 Xenophon, Historia Graeca, vi. 

2 Dionysius Halicarnasensis, And- 3. 6. 
quil. Rom. i. 12. 2. 



11 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 55 

them have failed to do so the Pythian priestess has com- 
manded them to send the due portions of the fruits and to 
act towards our city according to ancestral custom. Can 
anything be supported by stronger evidence than by the 
oracle of god, the assent of many Greeks, and the harmony 
of ancient legend with the deeds of to-day ? " ^ 

This testimony of Isocrates to the antiquity both of Athenian 
the legend and of the custom might perhaps have been set cernin<T^°" 
aside, or at least disparaged, as the empty bombast of a the offer- 
wordy rhetorician, if it had not happened by good chance fi"ft-f°uits 
to be amply confirmed by an official decree of the Athenian ^t Eieusis. 
people passed in the century before Isocrates wrote. The 
decree was found inscribed on a stone at Eieusis and is 
dated by scholars in the latter half of the fifth century before 
our era, sometime between 446 and 420 B.c.^ It deals 
with the first-fruits of barley and wheat which were offered 
to the Two Goddesses, that is, to Demeter and Persephone, 
not only by the Athenians and their allies but by the 
Greeks in general. It prescribes the exact amount of barley 
and wheat which was to be offered by the Athenians and 
their allies, and it directs the highest officials at Eieusis, 
namely the Hierophant and the Torchbearer, to exhort the 
other Greeks at the mysteries to offer likewise of the first-fruits 
of the corn. The authority alleged in the decree for re- 
quiring or inviting offerings of first-fruits alike from Athenians 
and from foreigners is ancestral custom and the bidding of 
the Delphic oracle. The Senate is further enjoined to 
send commissioners, so far as it could be done, to all 
Greek cities whatsoever, exhorting, though not commanding, 
them to send the first-fruits in compliance with ancestral 
custom and the bidding of the Delphic oracle, and the state 
officials are directed to receive the offerings from such states in 
the same manner as the offerings of the Athenians and their 
allies. Instructions are also given for the building of three 
subterranean granaries at Eieusis, where the contributions 
of grain from Attica were to be stored. The best of the corn 

' Isocrates, Panegyric, 6 sq. pp. 33 sqq.) ; E, S. Roberts and E. A. 

Gardner, An Introduction to Greek 
2 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- Epigraphy, Part ii. (Cambridge, 1905) 
tionum Graecarum ,'^ No. 20 (vol. i. No. 9, pp. 22 sqq. 



56 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



Even after 
foreign 
states 
ceased to 
send first- 
fruits of the 
corn to 
Eleusis, 
they con- 
tinued to 
acknow- 
ledge the 
benefit 
which the 
Athenians 
had con- 
ferred on 
mankind 
by diffusing 
among 
them 

Demeter's 
gift of 
the corn. 



was to be offered in sacrifice as the Eumolpids might direct : 
oxen were to be bought and sacrificed, with gilt horns, not 
only to the two Goddesses but also to the God (Pluto), 
Triptolemus, Eubulus, and Athena ; and the remainder of 
the grain was to be sold and with the produce votive offerings 
were to be dedicated with inscriptions setting forth that they 
had been dedicated from the offerings of first-fruits, and 
recording the names of all the Greeks who sent the offerings 
to Eleusis. The decree ends with a prayer that all who 
comply with these injunctions or exhortations and render 
their dues to the city of Athens and to the Two Goddesses, 
may enjoy prosperity together with good and abundant crops. 
Writing in the second century of our era, under the Roman 
empire, the rhetorician Aristides records the custom which 
the Greeks observed of sending year by year the first-fruits 
of the harvest to Athens in gratitude for the corn, but he 
speaks of the practice as a thing of the past.^ 

We may suspect that the tribute of corn ceased to flow 
from far countries to Athens, when, with her falling fortunes 
and decaying empire, her proud galleys had ceased to carry 
the terror of the Athenian arms into distant seas. But if 
the homage was no longer paid in the substantial shape of 
cargoes of grain, it continued down to the latest days of 
paganism to be paid in the cheaper form of gratitude for 
that inestimable benefit, which the Athenians claimed to have 
received from the Corn Goddess and to have liberally com- 
municated to the rest of mankind. Even the Sicilians, who, 
inhabiting a fertile corn-growing island, worshipped Demeter 
and Persephone above all the gods and claimed to have been 
the first to receive the gift of the corn from the Corn God- 
dess," nevertheless freely acknowledged that the Athenians 
had spread, though they had not originated, the useful 
discovery among the nations. Thus the patriotic Sicilian 
historian Diodorus, while giving the precedence to his fellow- 



' Aristides, Paiiatheft. and £/eusiu., 
vol. i. pp. 167 sg., 417 ed. G. Dindorf 
(Leipsic, 1829). 

2 Diodorus Siculus, v. 2 and 4 ; 
Cicero, l/t C. Verrem, act. ii. bk. iv. 
chapters 48 sq. Both writers mention 
that the whole of Sicily was deemed 



sacred to Demeter and Persephone, 
and that corn was said to have grown 
in the island before it appeared any- 
where else. In support of the latter 
claim Diodorus Siculus (v. 2. 4) asserts 
that wheat grew wild in many parts of 
Sicily. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 57 

countrymen, strives to be just to the Athenian pretensions Testimony 
in the following passage.^ " Mythologists," says he, " relate skiiian 
that Demeter, unable to find her daughter, lit torches at the historian 
craters of Etna ^ and roamed over many parts of the world. 
Those people who received her best she rewarded by giving 
them in return the fruit of the wheat ; and because the 
Athenians welcomed her most kindly of all, she bestowed 
the fruit of the wheat on them next after the Sicilians. 
Wherefore that people honoured the goddess more than any 
other folk by magnificent sacrifices and the mysteries at 
Eleusis, which for their extreme antiquity and sanctity have 
become famous among all men. From the Athenians many 
others received the boon of the corn and shared the seed 
with their neighbours, till they filled the whole inhabited 
earth with it. But as the people of Sicily, on account of 
the intimate relation in which they stood to Demeter and 
the Maiden, were the first to participate in the newly 
discovered corn, they appointed sacrifices and popular 
festivities in honour of each of the two goddesses, naming 
the celebrations after them and signifying the nature of the 
boons they had received by the dates of the festivals. For 
they celebrated the bringing home of the Maiden at the time 
when the corn was ripe, performing the sacrifice and holding 
the festivity with all the solemnity and zeal that might be 
reasonably expected of men who desired to testify their 
gratitude for so signal a gift bestowed on them before all 
the rest of mankind. But the sacrifice to Demeter they 
assigned to the time when the sowing of the corn begins ; 
and for ten days they hold a popular festivity which bears 
the name of the goddess, and is remarkable as well for the 

1 Diodorus Siculus, v. 4. Etna. In art Demeter and Persephone 

and their attendants were often repre- 

2 This legend, which is mentioned sented with torches in their hands. See 
also by Cicero (/« C. Verrem, act. ii. L. R. Farnell, The Cults of the Greek 
bk. iv. ch. 48), was no doubt told to States, iii. (Oxford, 1907) plates xiii., 
explain the use of torches in the xv.a, xvi., xvii., xviii., xix., xx., xxi.a, 
mysteries of Demeter and Persephone. xxv., xxvii.*^. Perhaps the legend of the 
The author of the Homeric Hynin to torchlight search for Persephone and 
Demeter tells us (verses 47 sq.) that the use of the torches in the mysteries 
Demeter searched for her lost daughter may have originated in a custom of 
for nine days with burning torches in carrying fire about the fields as a charm 
her hands, but he does not say that the to secure sunshine for the corn. See 
torches were kindled at the flames of The Golden Bough,- iii. 313. 



58 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Testimony 
of Cicero 
and 
Himerius. 



The 

Sicilians 
seem to 
have 

associated 
Demeter 
with the 
seed-corn 
and Per- 
sephone 
with the 
ripe ears. 



magnificence of its pomp as for the costumes then worn in 
imitation of the olden time. During these days it is cus- 
tomary for people to rail at each other in foul language, 
because when Demeter was mourning for the rape of the 
Maiden she laughed at a ribald jest." ^ Thus despite his 
natural prepossession in favour of his native land, Diodorus 
bears testimony both to the special blessing bestowed on 
the Athenians by the Corn Goddess, and to the generosity 
with which they had imparted the blessing to others, until it 
gradually spread to the ends of the earth. Again, Cicero, 
addressing a Roman audience, enumerates among the benefits 
which Athens was believed to have conferred on the world, 
the gift of the corn and its origin in Attic soil ; and the 
cursory manner in which he alludes to it seems to prove that 
the tradition was familiar to his hearers,"^ Four centuries 
later the rhetorician Himerius speaks of Demeter's gift of 
the corn and the mysteries to the Athenians as the source 
of the first and greatest service rendered by their city to 
mankind ; ^ so ancient, widespread, and persistent was the 
legend which ascribed the origin of the corn to the goddess 
Demeter and associated it with the institution of the 
Eleusinian mysteries. No wonder that the Delphic oracle 
called Athens " the Metropolis of the Corn." * 

From the passage of Diodorus which I have quoted we 
learn that the Sicilians celebrated the festival of Demeter 
at the beginning of sowing, and the festival of Persephone at 
harvest. This proves that they associated, if they did not 
identify, the Mother Goddess with the seed-corn and the 
Daughter Goddess with the ripe ears. Could any associa- 
tion or identification be more easy and obvious to people 
who personified the processes of nature under the form of 



1 The words which I have translated 
•' the bringing home of the Maiden " 
(t^s K6p7;s TTf)v KarayuyTji') are explained 
with great probability by Professor M.P. 
Nilsson as referring to the bringingof the 
ripe corn to the barn or the threshing- 
floor (^Griechische Feste, Leipsic, 1 906, 
pp. 356 sq.). This interpretation 
accords perfectly with a well-attested 
sense of Karayiiiyfi and its cognate verb 
KOiTd-yeiv, and is preferable to the other 



possible interpretation "the bringing 
down," whicli would refer to the 
descent of Persephone into the nether 
world ; for such a descent is hardly 
appropriate to a harvest festival. 

2 Cicero, Pro L. Flacco, 26. 

^ Himerius, Orat. ii. 5. 

* Mip-p67roXts TuJi' Kapirwi', Aristides, 
Panathen. vol. i. p. 168 ed. G. Din- 
dorf (Leipzig, 1829). 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 59 

anthropomorphic deities ? As the seed brings forth the ripe 
ear, so the Corn Mother Demeter gave birth to the Corn 
Daughter Persephone. It is true that difficulties arise when Difficulty 
we attempt to analyse this seemingly simple conception. "^^1^^'^" 
How, for example, are we to divide exactly the two persons between 
of the divinity? At what precise moment does the seed aiXpeT- 
cease to be the Corn Mother and begins to burgeon out sephoneas 
into the Corn Daughter ? And how far can we identify the fications of 
material substance of the barley and wheat with the divine different 
bodies of the Two Goddesses ? Questions of this sort prob- the corn 
ably gave little concern to the sturdy swains who ploughed, 
sowed, and reaped the fat fields of Sicily. We cannot imagine 
that their night's rest was disturbed by uneasy meditations 
on these knotty problems. It would hardly be strange if the 
muzzy mind of the Sicilian bumpkin, who looked with blind 
devotion to the Two Goddesses for his daily bread, totally 
failed to distinguish Demeter from the seed and Perse- 
phone from the ripe sheaves, and if he accepted implicitly 
the doctrine of the real presence of the divinities in the corn 
without discriminating too curiously between the material 
and the spiritual properties of the barley or the wheat. 
And if he had been closely questioned by a rigid logician as 
to the exact distinction to be drawn between the two persons 
of the godhead who together represented for him the annual 
vicissitudes of the cereals, Hodge might have scratched his 
head and confessed that it puzzled him to say where 
precisely the one goddess ended and the other began, or 
why the seed buried in the ground should figure at one time 
as the dead daughter Persephone descending into the nether 
world, and at another as the living Mother Demeter about 
to give birth to next year's crop. Theological subtleties 
like these have posed longer heads than are commonly to be 
found on bucolic shoulders. 

The time of year at which the first-fruits were offered The time of 
to Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis is not explicitly ^hen^the 
mentioned by ancient authorities, and accordingly no first-fruits 
inference can be drawn from the date of the offering as ^g^g 
to its religious significance. It is true that at the Eleusinian offered to 

Demeter 

mysteries the Hierophant and Torchbearer publicly exhorted and Per- 
the Greeks in general, as distinguished from the Athenians sephone at 



6o 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Eleusis is 
not known. 



The 

Festival 
of the 
Threshing- 
floor 
(Haloa) 
at Eleusis. 



and their allies, to offer the first-fruits in accordance with 
ancestral custom and the bidding of the Delphic oracle.^ 
But there is nothing to shew that the offerings were made 
immediately after the exhortation. Nor does any ancient 
authority support the view of a modern scholar that the 
offering of the first-fruits, or a portion of them, took place at 
the Festival before Ploughing {Proerosid)^ though that festival 
would no doubt be an eminently appropriate occasion for 
propitiating with such offerings the goddess on whose bounty 
the next year's crop was believed to depend. 

On the other hand, we are positively told that the first- 
fruits were carried to Eleusis to be used at the Festival of 
the Threshing-floor {Haloa)? But the statement, cursorily 
reported by writers of no very high authority, cannot be 
implicitly relied upon ; and even if it could, we should 
hardly be justified in inferring from it that all the first-fruits 
of the corn were offered to Demeter and Persephone at this 



1 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptioiitivi 
Graecarumj^ No. 20, lines 25 sgq. ; 
E. S. Roberts and E. A. Gardner, 
Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, ii. 
(Cambridge, 1905) No. 9, lines 25 
sqq., Kekeviro} 5e /cat 6 iepotpdvTrjs kclI 6 
5g.8ovxos IJ.V(TTT] plots dirdpxeffdai rovs 
"E\\7;cas Tov Kapirov Kara, to, irdrpia Kai 
TTjv /xavTelav ttjv iy AeXcpwv. By coup- 
ling fj.vaTripioiS with dirdpxecrdai. instead 
of with KeXeueTd}, Miss J. E. Harrison 
understands the offering instead of the 
exhortation to have been made at the 
mysteries {Prolegomena to the Study of 
Greek Religion, Second Edition, p. 155, 
"Let the Hierophant and the Torch - 
bearer command that at the mysteries 
the Hellenes should offer first-fruits of 
their crops," etc. ). This interpretation 
is no doubt grammatically permissible, 
but the context seems to plead strongly, 
if not to be absolutely decisive, in favour 
of the other. It is to be observed 
that the exhortation was addressed not 
to the Athenians and their allies (who 
were compelled to make the offering) 
but only to the other Greeks, who 
might make it or not as they pleased ; 
and the amount of such voluntary con- 
tributions was probably small compared 
to that of the compulsory contributions, 



as to the date of which nothing is said. 
That the proclamation to the Greeks in 
general was an exhortation (KeXeu^rw), 
not a command, is clearly shewn by 
the words of the decree a few lines 
lower down, where commissioners are 
directed to go to all Greek states 
exhorting but not commanding them 
to offer the first-fruits (iKeboLS di /xt] 
eiriTaTTOVTas, KeXeiJOvras d^ dwapx^o'dai 
idv ^oiXwvTaL Kara to, TrdrpLa Kai t^v 
fxavTeiav iy AeX^tDc). The Athenians 
could not command free and independ- 
ent states to make such offerings, still 
less could they prescribe the exact date 
when the offerings were to be made. 
All that they could and did do was, 
taking advantage of the great assembly 
of Greeks from all quarters at the 
mysteries, to invite or exhort, by the 
mouth of the great priestly function- 
aries, the foreigners to contribute. 

2 August Mommsen, Peste der Stadt 
Athen im Altertum (Leipsic, 1898), 
pp. 192 sqq. 

3 Eustathius on Homer, Iliad, ix. 
534> P- 772 ; Im. Bekker, Anecdota 
Graeca, i. 384 sq., s.v. 'AXCoa. Com- 
pare O. Rubensohn, Die Jlfysterien- 
heiligtiimer in Eleusis und Samothrake 
(Berlin, 1892), p. 1 16. 



II DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 6i 

festival. Be that as it may, the Festival of the Threshing- 
floor was intimately connected with the worship both of 
Demeter and of Dionysus, and accordingly it deserves our 
attention. It is said to have been sacred to both these 
deities ; ^ and while the name seems to connect it rather 
with the Corn Goddess than with the Wine God, we are 
yet informed that it was held by the Athenians on the 
occasion of the pruning of the vines and the tasting of the 
stored-up wine." The festival is frequently mentioned in 
Eleusinian inscriptions, from some of which we gather 
that it included sacrifices to the two goddesses and a so- 
called Ancestral Contest, as to the nature of which we have 
no information.^ We may suppose that the festival or some 
part of it was celebrated on the Sacred Threshing-floor 
of Triptolemus at Eleusis ; * for as Triptolemus was the 
hero who is said to have diffused the knowledge of the 
corn all over the world, nothing could be more natural 
than that the Festival of the Threshing-floor should be 
held on the sacred threshing-floor which bore his name. 
As for Demeter, we have already seen how intimate was her 
association with the threshing-floor and the operation of 
threshing ; according to Homer, she is the yellow goddess who 
parts the yellow grain from the white chaff at the threshing, 
and in Cos her image with the corn-stalks and the poppies 

1 Eustathius on Homer, Iliad, ix. at Eleusis (Pausanias, i. 38. 6) is no 
534, p. 772; Im. Bekker, Anecdota doubt identical with the Sacred Thresh- 
Graeca, i. 384 sq., s.v. 'AXcDa. ing- floor mentioned in the great 

^ Scholia in Luciaiium, ed. H. Rabe Eleusinian inscription of 329 B.C. 

(Leipsic, 1906), pp. 279 sq. (scholium (Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptiomim 

on Dialog. Meretr. vii. 4). G?-aecarum,'^ No. 587, line 234). We 

2 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- read of a hierophant who, contrary to 
tionuni Graecarum^ Nos. 192, 246, ancestral custom, sacrificed a victim on 
587, 640 ; 'E(p7]iJ.eph 'Apxa^oXoyiKr], the hearth in the Hall at Eleusis during 
1884, coll. 135 sq. The passages of the Festival of the Threshing-floor, 
inscriptions and of ancient authors "it being unlawful to sacrifice victims 
which refer to the festival are collected on that day" (Demosthenes, Contra 
by Dr. L. R. Farnell, The Cults of the Neaeram, 116, pp. 1384 sq.), but from 
Greek States, iii. (Oxford, 1907) pp. such an unlawful act no inference can 
315 sq. For a discussion of the be drawn as to the place where the 
evidence see August Mommsen, Teste festival was held. That the festival 
der Stadt Athen im Altertum (Leipsic, probably had special reference to the 
1898), pp. 359 sqq. ; Miss J. E. threshing-floor of Triptolemus has 
Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study already been pointed out by O. Ruben - 
of Greek Religion, Second Edition sohn {Die Mysterienheiligtiimer in 
(Cambridge, 1908), pp. 145 sqq. Eleusis tuid Samothrake, Berlin, 1892, 

"^ The threshing-floor of Triptolemus p. 118). 



62 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



in her hands stood on the threshing-floor.^ The festival 

lasted one day, and no victims might be sacrificed at it ; ^ but 

special use was made, as we have seen, of the first-fruits of 

Date of the corn. With regard to the dating of the festival we are 

the Festival ij^fQi-j^ed that it fell in the month Poseideon, which corre- 

of the 

Threshing- sponds roughly to our December, and as the date rests on 
^mioa) at t^^ ^'g^ authority of the ancient Athenian antiquary Philo- 
Eieusis. chorus,^ and is, moreover, indirectly confirmed by inscrip- 
tional evidence,* we are bound to accept it. But it is 
certainly surprising to find a Festival of the Threshing-floor 
held so late in the year, long after the threshing, which in 
Greece usually takes place not later than midsummer, though 
on high ground in Crete it is sometimes prolonged till near 
the end of August.'^ We seem bound to conclude that the 
Festival of the Threshing-floor was quite distinct from the 
actual threshing of the corn.^ It is said to have included 
certain mystic rites performed by women alone, who feasted 
and quaffed wine, while they broke filthy jests on each other 
and exhibited cakes baked in the form of the male and female 
organs of generation.'^ If the latter particulars are correctly 
reported we may suppose that these indecencies, like certain 
obscenities which seem to have formed part of the Great 
Mysteries at Eleusis,^ were no mere wanton outbursts of 
licentious passion, but were deliberately practised as rites 
calculated to promote the fertility of the ground by means 
of homoeopathic or imitative magic. A like association of 



^ Seeabove, pp. 41 j^.,43. Maximus 
Tyrius observes {Dtssertat. xxx. 5) that 
husbandmen were the first to celebrate 
sacred rites in honour of Demeter at 
the threshing-floor. 

2 See above, p. 61, note*. 

^ Harpocration, s.v. ' AXGia (vol. i. 
p. 24, ed. G. Dindorf). 

* Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tioniim Graecarum^ No. 587, lines 
124, 144, with the editor's notes ; 
August Mommsen, Feste der Stadt 
Athen ivi Altertum, p. 360. 

° So I am informed by my friend 
Professor J. L. Myres, who speaks 
from personal observation. 

^ This is recognised by Professor 
M. P. Nilsson. See his Studia de 
Diotiysiis Atticis (Lund, 1900), pp. 



95 sqq., and his Griechische Feste, p. 
329. To explain the lateness of the 
festival, Miss J. E. Harrison suggests 
that " the shift of date is due to 
Dionysos. The rival festivals of 
Dionysos were in mid - winter. He 
possessed himself of the festivals of 
Demeter, took over her threshing-floor 
and compelled the anomaly of a winter 
threshing festival " {Prolegomena to 
the Study of Greek Religion, Second 
Edition, p. 147). 

^ Scholiast on Lucian, Dial. Meretr. 
vii. 4 (Scholia in Lucianum, ed. H. 
Rabe, Leipsic, 1906, pp. 279-281). 

* Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 
ii. 15 and 20, pp. 13 and 17 ed. 
Potter ; Arnobius, Adversus Natiorus, 
V. 25-27, 35, 39. 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 63 

what we might call indecency with rites intended to promote 
the growth of the crops meets us in the Thesmophoria, a 
festival of Demeter celebrated by women alone, at which 
the character of the goddess as a source of fertility comes 
out clearly in the custom of mixing the remains of the 
sacrificial pigs with the seed-corn in order to obtain a 
plentiful crop. We shall return to this festival later on.^ 

Other festivals held at Eleusis in honour of Demeter and The Green 
Persephone were known as the Green Festival and the ^''-^"y^i 

^ and the 

Festival of the Cornstalks. Of the manner of their celebra- Festival 
tion we know nothing except that they comprised sacrifices, cornstalks 
which were offered to Demeter and Persephone. But their at Eieusis. 
names suffice to connect the two festivals with the green 
and the standing corn. We have seen that Demeter 
herself bore the title of Green, and that sacrifices were 
offered to her under that title which plainly aimed at pro- 
moting fertility.^ Among the many epithets applied to Epithets of 
Demeter which mark her relation to the corn may further ^^'"^'^'" 

■' referring to 

be mentioned " Wheat-lover," " She of the Corn," ^ " Sheaf- the com. 
bearer," ^ " She of the Threshing-floor," ^ " She of the Win- 
nowing-fan," ^ " Nurse of the Corn-ears," ^ " Crowned with 
Ears of Corn," ^^ " She of the Seed," ^^ " She of the Green 
Fruits," ^^ "Heavy with Summer Fruits,"" " Fruit -bearer," ^'* 

^ See below, p. 116; vol. ii. pp. •» Nonnus, Dionys. xvii. 153. The 

17 sqq. Athenians sacrificed to her under this 

2 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- title (Eustathius, on Homer, Iliad, 
lionum Graecartim,^ No. 640; Ch. xviii. 553, p. I162). 

Michel, Recueil d^ Inscriptions Grecgues '^ Theocritus, /rfj'/. vii. 155; Orphica, 

(Brussels, 1900), No. 135, p. 145. xl. 5. 

To be exact, while the inscription * Anthologia Palatina, vi. 98. i. 
definitely mentions the sacrifices to ^ Orphica, xl. 3. 
Demeter and Persephone at the '^ Anthologia Palatina, vi. 104. 8. 
Green Festival, it does not record the ^^ Orphica, xl. 5. 
deities to whom the sacrifice at the '- Ibid. 
Festival of the Cornstalks (ttjv rwv '^ Orphica, xl. 18. 
KaXafialuv dvffiav) was oflfered. But '* This title she shared with Perse- 
mentioned as it is in immediate con- phone at Tegea (Pausanias, viii. 53. 7), 
nexion with the sacrifices to Demeter and under it she received annual sacri- 
and Persephone at the Green Festival, fices at Ephesus (Dittenberger, Sylloge 
we may fairly suppose that the sacrifice Inscriptionum Graecarum,- No. 655). 
at the Festival of the Cornstalks was It was applied to her also at Epidaurus 
also offered to these goddesses. ('E07?/x. Apx-, 1883, col. 153) and at 

3 See above, p. 42. Athens (Aristophanes, Frogs, 382), and 

* Anthologia Palatina, vi. 36. i sq. appears to have been a common title of 

* Polemo, cited by Athenaeus, iii. the goddess. See L. R. Farnell, The 
9, p. 416 B. Cults of the Greek States, iii. 318 note ^". 



64 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Belief in 
ancient 
and 

modern 
times that 
the corn- 
crops 
depend on 
possession 
of an 
image of 
Demeter. 



" She of the Great Loaf," and " She of the Great Barley 
Loaf." ^ Of these epithets it may be remarked that though 
all of them are quite appropriate to a Corn Goddess, some 
of them would scarcely be applicable to an Earth Goddess 
and therefore they add weight to the other arguments which 
turn the scale in favour of the corn as the fundamental 
attribute of Demeter. 

How deeply implanted in the mind of the ancient 
Greeks was this faith in Demeter as goddess of the corn 
may be judged by the circumstance that the faith actually 
persisted among their Christian descendants at her old 
sanctuary of Eleusis down to the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. For when the English traveller Dodwell revisited 
Eleusis, the inhabitants lamented to him the loss of a 
colossal image of Demeter, which was carried off by Clarke 
in 1802 and presented to the University of Cambridge, 
where it still remains. " In my first journey to Greece," 
says Dodwell, " this protecting deity was in its full glory, 
situated in the centre of a threshing-floor, amongst the ruins 
of her temple. The villagers were impressed with a per- 
suasion that their rich harvests were the effect of her bounty, 
and since her removal, their abundance, as they assured me, 
has disappeared." '^ Thus we see the Corn Goddess Demeter 



^ Polemo, cited by Athenaeus, iii. 
73, p. 109 A B, X. 9. p. 416 c. 

2 E. Dodwell, A Classical and 
Topographical Tour through Greece 
(London, 1819), i. 583. E. D. Clarke 
found the image " on the side of the 
road, immediately before entering the 
village, and in the midst of a heap of 
dung, buried as high as the neck, a 
little beyond the farther extremity of 
the pavement of the temple. Yet even 
this degrading situation had not been 
assigned to it wholly independent of its 
antient history. The inhabitants of 
the small village which is now situated 
among the ruins of Eleusis still re- 
garded this statue with a very high 
degree of superstitious veneration. 
They attributed to its presence the 
fertility of their land ; and it was for 
this reason that they heaped around it 
the manure intended for their fields. 
Thev believed that the loss of it would 



be followed by no less a calamity than 
the failure of their annual harvests ; 
and they pointed to the ears of bearded 
wheat, upon the sculptured ornaments 
upon the head of the figure, as a never- 
failing indication of the produce of the 
soil." When the statue was about to 
be removed, a general murmur ran 
among the people, the women joining 
in the clamour. " They had been 
always," they said, "famous for their 
corn ; and the fertility of the land 
would cease when the statue was 
removed." See E. D. Clarke, Travels 
in various Countries of Europe, Asia, 
and Africa, m. (London, 1814) pp. 772- 
774) 787 sq. Compare J. C. Lawson, 
Modern Gi-eek Folklore and Ancient 
Greek Religion (Cambridge, 1 9 10), 
p. 80, who tells us that "the statue 
was regularly crowned with flowers 
in the avowed hope of obtaining good 
harvests." 




II DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 65 

standing on the threshing-floor of Eleusis and dispensing 
corn to her worshippers in the nineteenth century of the 
Christian era, precisely as her image stood and dispensed 
corn to her worshippers on the threshing-floor of Cos in the 
days of Theocritus. And just as the people of Eleusis last 
century attributed the diminution of their harvests to the 
loss of the image of Demeter, so in antiquity the Sicilians, 
a corn-growing people devoted to the worship of the two 
Corn Goddesses, lamented that the crops of many towns had 
perished because the unscrupulous Roman governor Verres 
had impiously carried off the image of Demeter from her 
famous temple at Henna.^ Could we ask for a clearer proof 
that Demeter was indeed the goddess of the corn than this 
belief, held by the Greeks down to modern times, that the 
corn -crops depended on her presence and bounty and 
perished when her image was removed ? 

In a former part of this work I followed an eminent Sacred 
French scholar in concluding, from various indications, that ^f^2eus^^ 
part of the religious drama performed in the mysteries of and 
Eleusis may have been a marriage between the sky-god at^Eieusis. 
Zeus and the corn-goddess Demeter, represented by the 
hierophant and the priestess of the goddess respectively.^ 
The conclusion is arrived at by combining a number of 
passages, all more or less vague and indefinite, of late 
Christian writers ; hence it must remain to some extent 
uncertain and cannot at the best lay claim to more than 
a fair degree of probability. It may be, as Professor W. 
Ridgeway holds, that this dramatic marriage of the god and 
goddess was an innovation foisted into the Eleusinian 
•Mysteries in that great welter of religions which followed 
the meeting of the East and the West in the later ages of 
antiquity.^ If a marriage of Zeus and Demeter did indeed 
form an important feature of the Mysteries in the fifth cen- 
tury before our era, it is certainly remarkable, as Professor 
Ridgeway has justly pointed out, that no mention of Zeus 

1 Cicero, In C. Verrem, act. ii. lib. friend Professor Ridgeway in a paper 
iv. 51. which I had the advantage of hear- 

<i T-L T\^ ■ A 4 J 4U J? J 4- ing him read at Cambridge in the 

^ The Mane Art and the Evolution ° ^ n 'tt., 

^ „. •• ^o early part of loii. Compare The 

cfKtngs,u.iZ^sg. Athenaeum, No. 4360, May 20th, 

2 This view was expressed by my 191 1, p. 576. 

PT. V. VOL. I V 



66 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Homer on 
the love of 
Zeus for 
Demeter. 



Zeus the 
Sky God 
may have 
been 
confused 
with Sub- 
terranean 
Zeus, that 
is, Pluto. 



occurs in the public decree of that century which regulates 
the offerings of first-fruits and the sacrifices to be made to 
the gods and goddesses of Eleusis.^ At the same time we 
must bear in mind that, if the evidence for the ritual marriage 
of Zeus and Demeter is late and doubtful, the evidence for 
the myth is ancient and indubitable. The story was known 
to Homer, for in the list of beauties to whom he makes 
Zeus, in a burst of candour, confess that he had lost his too 
susceptible heart, there occurs the name of " the fair-haired 
Queen Demeter " ; ^ and in another passage the poet repre- 
sents the jealous god smiting with a thunderbolt the favoured 
lover with whom the goddess had forgotten her dignity 
among the furrows of a fallow field.^ Moreover, according 
to one tradition, Dionysus himself was the offspring of the 
intrigue between Zeus and Demeter.* Thus there is no 
intrinsic improbability in the view that one or other of these 
unedifying incidents in the backstairs chronicle of Olympus 
should have formed part of the sacred peep-show in the 
Eleusinian Mysteries. But it seems just possible that the 
marriage to which the Christian writers allude with malicious 
joy may after all have been of a more regular and orthodox 
pattern. We are positively told that the rape of Persephone 
was acted at the Mysteries ; ^ may that scene not have 
been followed by another representing the solemnisation of 
her nuptials with her ravisher and husband Pluto ? It is to 
be remembered that Pluto was sometimes known as a god 
of fertility under the title of Subterranean Zeus. It was to 
him under that title as well as to Demeter, that the Greek 
ploughman prayed at the beginning of the ploughing ; ^ and 
the people of Myconus used to sacrifice to Subterranean 
Zeus and Subterranean Earth for the prosperity of the crops 
on the twelfth day of the month Lenaeon.'' Thus it may 
be that the Zeus whose marriage was dramatically repre- 
sented at the Mysteries was not the sky-god Zeus, but his 



1 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptioium 
Gi-aecaj-uffi,'^ No. 20 ; E. S. Roberts 
and E. A. Gardner, Introduction to Greek 
Epig)-aphy, ii. (Cambridge, 1905) No. 
9, pp. 22 sq. See above, pp. 55 sq. 

2 Homer, Iliad, xiv. 326. 

^ Homer, Odyssey, v. 125 sqq. 
* Diodorus Siculus, iii. 62. 6. 



5 Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. 
12, p. 12, ed. Potter. 

^ Hesiod, Works and Days, 465 sqq. 

' Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tionum Graecarum,'^ No. 6l5> lines 25 
sq. ; Ch. Michel, Recueil d^ Inscriptions 
Grecques, No. 714; J. de Prott et L. 
Ziehen, Leges Graecortifn Sacrae, No. 4. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 67 

brother Zeus of the Underworld, and that the writers who 
refer to the ceremony have confused the two brothers. This 
view, if it could be established, would dispose of the difficulty 
raised by the absence of the name of Zeus in the decree 
which prescribes the offerings to be made to the gods of 
Eleusis ; for although in that decree Pluto is not mentioned 
under the name of Subterranean Zeus, he is clearly referred 
to, as the editors of the inscription have seen, under the 
vague title of " the God," while his consort Persephone is 
similarly referred to under the title of " the Goddess," and it 
is ordained that perfect victims shall be sacrificed to both of 
them. However, if we thus dispose of one difficulty, it 
must be confessed that in doing so we raise another. For 
if the bridegroom in the Sacred Marriage at Eleusis was 
not the sky-god Zeus, but the earth-god Pluto, we seem 
driven to suppose that, contrary to the opinion of the reverend 
Christian scandal-mongers, the bride was his lawful wife 
Persephone and not his sister and mother-in-law Demeter. 
In short, on the hypothesis which I have suggested we are 
compelled to conclude that the ancient busybodies who 
lifted the veil from the mystic marriage were mistaken as to 
the person both of the divine bridegroom and of the divine 
bride. In regard to the bridegroom I have conjectured 
that they may have confused the two brothers, Zeus of the 
Upper World and Zeus of the Lower World. In regard to Demeter 
the bride, can any reason be suggested for confounding the ^^^^ ^^^_ 
persons of the mother and daughter ? On the view here fused with 
taken of the nature of Demeter and Persephone nothing ge^phone; 
could be easier than to confuse them with each other, '^ art the 

, . 1 IT - I types of 

for both of them were mythical embodiments ot the corn, the two 
the mother Demeter standing for the old corn of last year goddesses 

° are often 

and the daughter Persephone standing for the new corn of very 
this year. In point of fact Greek artists, both of the archaic similar. 
and of later periods, frequently represent the Mother 
and Daughter side by side in forms which resemble each 
other so closely that eminent modern experts have some- 
times differed from each other on the question, which 
is Demeter and which is Persephone ; indeed in some 
cases it might be quite impossible to distinguish the 
two if it were not for the inscriptions attached to the 



68 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



figures.^ The ancient sculptors, vase-painters, and engravers 
must have had some good reason for portraying the two god- 
desses in types which are almost indistinguishable from each 
other ; and what better reason could they have had than the 
knowledge that the two persons of the godhead were one 
in substance, that they stood merely for two different 
aspects of the same simple natural phenomenon, the growth 
of the corn ? Thus it is easy to understand why Demeter 
and Persephone may have been confused in ritual as well as 
in art, why in particular the part of the divine bride in a 
Sacred Marriage may sometimes have been assigned to the 
Mother and sometimes to the Daughter. But all this, I 
fully admit, is a mere speculation, and I only put it forward 
as such. We possess far too little information as to a 
Sacred Marriage in the Eleusinian Mysteries to be justified 
in speaking with confidence on so obscure a subject. 



1 See L. R. Fainell, The Cutts of 
the Greek States, iii. (Oxford, 1907), p. 
259, " It was long before the mother 
could be distinguished from the daughter 
by any organic difference of form or by 
any expressive trait of countenance. 
On the more ancient vases and terra- 
cottas they appear rather as twin-sisters, 
almost as if the inarticulate artist were 
aware of their original identity of sub- 
stance. And even among the monu- 
ments of the transitional period it is 
difficult to find any representation of 
the goddesses in characters at once 
clear and impressive. We miss this 
even in the beautiful vase of Hieron in 
the British Museum, where the divine 
pair are seen with Triptolemos : the 
style is delicate and stately, and there 
is a certain impression of inner tranquil 
life in the group, but without the aid 
of the inscriptions the mother would 
not be known from the daughter " ; 
id., vol. iii. 274, "But it would be 
wrong to give the impression that the 
numismatic artists of this period were 
always careful to distinguish — in such 
a manner as the above works indicate 
— between mother and daughter. The 
old idea of their unity of substance still 
seemed to linger as an art-tradition : 
the very type we have just been exam- 
ining appears on a fourth-century coin 



of Hermione, and must have been used 
here to designate Demeter Chthonia 
who was there the only form that the 
corn-goddess assumed. And even at 
Metapontum, where coin - engraving 
was long a great art, a youthful head 
crowned with corn, which in its own 
right and on account of its resemblance 
to the masterpiece of Euainetos could 
claim the name of Kore [Persephone], is 
actually inscribed 'Damater.'" Com- 
pare J. Overbeck, Griechische Kunst- 
mythologie, iii. (Leipsic, 1873-1878), 
p. 453. In regard, for example, to the 
famous Eleusinian bas-relief, one of the 
most beautiful monuments of ancient 
religious art, which seems to represent 
Demeter giving the corn - stalks to 
Triptolemus, while Persephone crowns 
his head, there has been much diver- 
gence of opinion among the learned as 
to which of the goddesses is Demeter 
and which Persephone. See J. Over- 
beck, op. cit. iii. 427 sqq. ; L. R. 
Farnell, op. cit. iii. 263 sq. On the 
close resemblance of the artistic types 
of Demeter and Persephone see further 
E. Gerhard, Gesammelte akademische 
Abhandlungen (Berlin, 1866-1868), ii. 
357 sqq. ; F. Lenormant, in Daremberg 
et Saglio, Didionnaire des Antiquitis 
Grecques et Romaines, i. 2, s.v. 
" Ceres," p. 1049. 



a DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 69 

One thing, however, which we may say with a fair The date 
degree of probabiHty is that, if such a marriage did take °^*^*^ 

1 T-i • -1 -1 Eleusinian 

place at Kleusis, no date m the agricultural year could well Mysteries 
have been more appropriate for it than the date at which 'Z* ^^p^^J"- 
the Mysteries actually fell, namely about the middle of have been 
September, The long Greek summer is practically rainless LopHate 
and in the fervent heat and unbroken drought all nature time for a 
languishes. The river-beds are dry, the fields parched. The Ma^iatrg 
farmer awaits impatiently the setting-in of the autumnal rains, oftheSky 
which begin in October and mark the great season for plough- the Corn 
ing and sowing. What time could be fitter for celebrating Goddess 

. ''or the 

the union of the Corn Goddess with her husband the Earth Earth 
God or perhaps rather with her paramour the Sky God, who Goddess. 
will soon descend in fertilising showers to quicken the seed 
in the furrows ? Such embraces of the divine powers or 
their human representatives might well be deemed, on the 
principles of homoeopathic or imitative magic, indispensable 
to the growth of the crops. At least similar ideas have 
been entertained and similar customs have been practised 
by many peoples ; ^ and in the legend of Demeter's love- 
adventure among the furrows of the thrice-ploughed fallow ^ 
we seem to catch a glimpse of rude rites of the same sort 
performed in the fields at sowing-time by Greek ploughmen 
for the sake of ensuring the growth of the seed which they 
were about to commit to the bosom of the naked earth. In 
this connexion a statement of ancient writers as to the rites 
of Eleusis receives fresh significance. We are told that at 
these rites the worshippers looked up to the sky and cried 
" Rain ! " and then looked down at the earth and cried 
" Conceive ! " ^ Nothing could be more appropriate at a 
marriage of the Sky God and the Earth or Corn Goddess 
than such invocations to the heaven to pour down rain and 
to the earth or the corn to conceive seed under the fertilising 
shower ; in Greece no time could well be more suitable for 

' The Magic Art and the Evolution for vie, roKVie {Aglaophavms, p. 782) 

of Kings, ii. 97 sqq. may be accepted as certain, confirmed 

^ Homer, Odyssey, v. 125 sqq. as it is by Hippolytus, Refutatio Om- 

3 Proclus, on Plato, Timaeus, p. nium Haeresium, v. 7, p. 146, ed. 

293 c, quoted by L. F. Famell, The Duncker and Schneidewin (Gottingen, 

Cults of the Greek States, iii. 357, 1859), rb ixiya Kai dpprjTov 'EXeiaifit^v 

where Lobeck's emendation of iie, Kije fivcrrripiov ve Kve. 



70 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



The 

Eleusinian 

games 

distinct 

from the 

Eleusinian 

Mysteries. 



The 

Eleusinian 
games 
of later 
origin 
than the 
Eleusinian 
Mysteries. 



the utterance of such prayers than just at the date when the 
Great Mysteries of Eleusis were celebrated, at the end of 
the long drought of summer and before the first rains of 
autumn. 

Different both from the Great Mysteries and the offer- 
ings of first-fruits at Eleusis were the games which were 
celebrated there on a great scale once in every four years 
and on a less scale once in every two years.^ That the 
games were distinct from the Mysteries is proved by 
their periods, which were quadriennial and biennial respec- 
tively, whereas the Mysteries were celebrated annually. 
Moreover, in Greek epigraphy, our most authentic evidence 
in such matters, the games and the Mysteries are clearly 
distinguished from each other by being mentioned separately 
in the same inscription.^ But like the Mysteries the 
games seem to have been very ancient ; for the Parian 
Chronicler, who wrote in the year 264 B.C., assigns the 
foundation of the Eleusinian games to the reign of Pandion, 
the son of Cecrops. However, he represents them as of 
later origin than the Eleusinian Mysteries, which according 
to him were instituted by Eumolpus in the reign of 
Erechtheus, after Demeter had planted corn in Attica and 
Triptolemus had sown seed in the Rarian plain at Eleusis.^ 
This testimony to the superior antiquity of the Mysteries 
is in harmony with our most ancient authority on the rites 
of Eleusis, the author of the Hymn to Demeter, who 
describes the origin of the Eleusinian Mysteries, but makes 
no reference or allusion to the Eleusinian Games. However, 
the great age of the games is again vouched for at a much 

^ As to the Eleusinian games see 
August Mommsen, Feste der Stadt 
Athen i?n Altertuni, pp. 179-20^; P. 
Foucart, Les Grands Mysteres d Eleusis 
(Paris, 1900), pp. 143-147; P. Stengel, 
in Pauly-Wissowa's Real-Encyclopddie 
der classischeji Altertumsivissenschaft, 
V. coll. 2330 sqq. The quadriennial 
celebration of the Eleusinian Games is 
mentioned by Aristotle ( Cotistitution of 
Athens, 54), and in the great Eleu- 
sinian inscription of 329 B.C., which is 
also our only authority for the biennial 
celebration of the games. See Ditten- 
berger, Sylloge Inscripiiomtni Grae- 



carum,"^ No.. 587, lines 258 sgq. The 
regular and official name of the games 
was simply Eletisinia (to, 'EXeutr/i'ta), 
a name which late writers applied in- 
correctly to the Mysteries. See August 
Mommsen, op. cit. pp. 179 sqq. ; 
Dittenberger, op, cit. No. 587, note ^''i. 

2 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tiotium Graecarum,"^ No. 246, lines 25 
sqq. ; id. No. 587, lines 244 sq., 
258 sqq. 

3 Marmor Pariuni, in Fragmenta 
Historicor-um Graecorum, ed. C. 
Miiller, i. 544 sq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 71 

later date by the rhetorician Aristides, who even declares 
that they were the oldest of all Greek games.^ With The 
regard to the nature and meaning: of the games our infor- ^'^"^'"■^'1 

° . , o & games 

mation is extremely scanty, but an old scholiast on Pindar sacred to 
tells us that they were celebrated in honour of Demeter and fifc^pg^ 
Persephone as a thank-offering at the conclusion of the corn- sephone. 
harvest.' His testimony is confirmed by that of the 
rhetorician Aristides, who mentions the institution of the 
Eleusinian games in immediate connexion with the offerings 
of the first-fruits of the corn, which many Greek states sent 
to Athens ; ^ and from an inscription dated about the close 
of the third century before our era we learn that at the 
Great Eleusinian Games sacrifices were offered to Demeter 
and Persephone/ Further, we gather from an official 
Athenian inscription of 329 B.C. that both the Great and 
the Lesser Games included athletic and musical con- 
tests, a horse-race, and a competition which bore the 
name of the Ancestral or Hereditary Contest, and which 
accordingly may well have formed the original kernel of 
the games.^ Unfortunately nothing is known about this 
Ancestral Contest. We might be tempted to identify it 
with the Ancestral Contest included in the Eleusinian 
Festival of the Threshing-floor,'' which was probably held 

^ Aristides, Panatheii. and Eleusin. op. cit. No. 678, line 2). The pan- 

vol. i. pp. 168, 417, ed. G. Dindorf. cratium included wrestling and boxing ; 

2 Schol. on Pindar, Olymp. ix. the pentathlum included a foot-race, 
150, p. 228, ed. Aug. Boeckh. leaping, throwing the quoit, throwing 

3 Aristides, 11. cc. the spear, and wrestling. See W. 
* Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Pomaa 

tionum Graecarum,'^ No. 246, lines 25 Antiqttities,Th'ird Edition, s.vv. "Pan- 

sqq. The editor rightly points out cratium " and " Pentathlon." 
that the Great Eleusinian Games are ^ Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 

identical with the games celebrated tionum Graecartwi,^ No. 246, lines 46 

every fourth year, which are men- sqq. ; Ch. Michel, Recueil (flnscrip- 

tioned in the decree of 329 B.C. tions Grecques, No. 609. See above, 

(Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum p. 61. The identification lies all the 

Graecarum,^ No. 587, lines 260 sq.). nearer to hand because the inscription 

^ 'Dili^nh^rger, Sylloge Inscriptionum records a decree in honour of a man 

Graecamm,^ No. 587, lines 259 sqq. who had sacrificed to Demeter and 

From other Attic inscriptions we learn Persephone at the Great Eleusinian 

that the Eleusinian games comprised a Games, and a provision is contained in 

long foot-race, a race in armour, and the decree that thehonourshouldbe pro- 

a pancratium. See Dittenberger, op. claimed "at theAncestral Contest of the 

cit. No. 587 note 1^1 (vol. ii. p. 313). Festival of the Threshing-floor." The 

The Great Eleusinian Games also in- same Ancestral Contest at the Festival 

eluded the pentathlum (Dittenberger, of the Threshing-floor is mentioned in 



72 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



Triptole- 
mus, the 
mythical 
hero of 
the corn. 



on the Sacred Threshing-floor of Triptolemus at Eleusis.^ 
If the identification could be proved, we should have 
another confirmation of the tradition which connects the 
games with Demeter and the corn ; for according to the 
prevalent tradition it was to Triptolemus that Demeter first 
revealed the secret of the corn, and it was he whom she sent 
out as an itinerant missionary to impart the beneficent dis- 
covery of the cereals to all mankind and to teach them to 
sow the seed.^ On monuments of art, especially in vase- 
paintings, he is constantly represented along with Demeter 
in this capacity, holding corn-stalks in his hand and sitting 
in his car, which is sometimes winged and sometimes drawn 
by dragons, and from which he is said to have sowed the 
seed down on the whole world as he sped through the air.^ 
At Eleusis victims bought with the first-fruits of the wheat 
and barley were sacrificed to him as well as to Demeter and 
Persephone.^ In short, if we may judge from the combined 
testimony of Greek literature and art, Triptolemus was the 
corn-hero first and foremost. Even beyond the limits of the 
Greek world, all men, we are told, founded sanctuaries and 
erected altars in his honour because he had bestowed on 
them the gift of the corn.^ His very name has been 
plausibly explained both in ancient and modern times as 
" Thrice-ploughed " with reference to the Greek custom of 

Griechische Alyikologie,^ i. 769 sgg. 



another Eleusinian inscription, which 
records honours decreed to a man who 
had sacrificed to Demeter and Perse- 
phone at the Festival of the Threshing- 
floor. See 'T&cprjfiepls 'Apxai-oXoyiKri, 
1884, coll. 135 sg. 

1 See above, p. 61. 

^ Diodorus Siculus, v. 68 ; Arrian, 
Indie. 7 ; Lucian, SonDiuim, 15 ; id., 
Philopseudes, 3 ; Plato, Laws, vi. 22, 
p. 782 ; Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, i. 5. 
2 ; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae Com- 
pendium, 28, p. 53, ed. C. Lang ; 
Pausanias, i. 14. 2, vii. 18. 2, viii. 4. 
I ; Aristides, Ehusin. vol. i. pp. 416 
sq., ed. G. Dindorf ; Hyginus, Fabulae, 
147, 259, 277 ; Ovid, Fasti, iv. 549 
sqq. ; zi/. , Aletamorph. v. 645 sqq. ; 
Servius, on Virgil, Georg. i. 19. See 
also above, p. 54. As to Triptolemus, 
see L. Preller, Defneier und Persephone 
(Hamburg, 1837), pp. 282 sqq. ; id., 



^ C. Strube, Sludien iiber den Bil- 
derh-eis von Eleusis (Leipsic, 1870), 
pp. 4 sqq. ; J. Overbeck, Gnechische 
Kunstmythologie, iii. (Leipsic, 1873- 
1880), pp. 530 sqq. ; A. Baumeister, 
Denkvidlei- des classischen Altertums, 
iii. 1855^^(7. That Triptolemus sowed 
the earth with corn from his car is 
mentioned by Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 
i. 5- 2 ; Cornutus, Theologiae Graecae 
Competiditim, 28, pp. 53 sq., ed. C. 
Lang; Hyginus, Fabulae, 147; and 
Servius, on Virgil, Georg. i. 19. 

* Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tionum Graecarum,'- No. 20, lines 37 
sqq. ; E. S. Roberts and E. A. Gardner, 
Introduction to Greek Epigraphy, ii. 
(Cambridge, 1905), No. 9, p. 24. 

^ Arrian, Epicteti Dissertat/ones, i. 
4. 30. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 73 

ploughing the land thrice a year/ and the derivation is said to 
be on philological principles free from objection." In fact it 
would seem as if Triptolemus, like Demeter and Persephone 
themselves, were a purely mythical being, an embodiment 
of the conception of the first sower. At all events in 
the local Eleusinian legend, according to an eminent scholar, 
who has paid special attention to Attic genealogy, " Tripto- 
lemus does not, like his comrade Eumolpus or other founders 
of Eleusinian priestly families, continue his kind, but without 
leaving offspring who might perpetuate his priestly office, he 
is removed from the scene of his beneficent activity. As he 
appeared, so he vanishes again from the legend, after he has 
fulfilled his divine mission." ^ 

However, there is no sufficient ground for identifying the Prizes of 
Ancestral Contest of the Eleusinian games with the Ancestral gfjgn^tg 
Contest of the Threshing-festival at Eleusis, and accordingly victors in 
the connexion of the games with the corn-harvest and with sjuj^n 
the corn-hero Triptolemus must so far remain uncertain. But games. 
a clear trage of such a connexion may be seen in the custom 
of rewarding the victors in the Eleusinian games with 
measures of barley ; in the official Athenian inscription of 
329 B.C., which contains the accounts of the superintendents 
of Eleusis and the Treasurers of the Two Goddesses, the 
amounts of corn handed over by these officers to the priests 
and priestesses for the purposes of the games is exactly 
specified.* This of itself is sufficient to prove that the 

1 Scholiast on Homer, Iliad, xviii. said by Xenophon {Hellenica, vi. 3. 6) 
483 ; L. Preller, Demeter und Perse- to have spoken of Triptolemus as 
phone, p. 286 ; F. A. Paley on Hesiod, " our ancestor" (6 ijfi^Tepoi irpoyovos). 

Works and Days, 460. The custom See above, p. 54. But it is possible 

of ploughing the land thrice is alluded that Callias was here speaking, not as 

to by Homer (Iliad, xviii. 542, Odyssey, a direct descendant of Triptolemus, but 

V. 127) and Hesiod {Theogony, 971), merely as an Athenian, who naturally 

and is expressly mentioned by Theo- ranked Triptolemus among the most 

phrastus {Historia Plantarttm, vii. illustrious of the ancestral heroes of his 

13, 6). people. Even if he intended to claim 

2 So I am informed by my learned actual descent from the hero, this 
friend the Rev. Professor J. H. would prove nothing as to the his- 
Moulton. torical character of Triptolemus, for 

^ J. Toepfifer, Attische Genealogie many Greek families boasted of being 

(Berlin, 1889), pp. 138 sq. However, descended from gods. 

the Eleusinian Torchbearer Callias * The prize of barley is mentioned 

apparently claimed to be descended by the SchoHast on Pindar, Olynip. 

from Triptolemus, for in a speech ad- ix, 150. The Scholiast on Aristides 

dressed to the Lacedaemonians he is (vol.iii. pp. 55,56, ed. G. Dindorf) men- 



74 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



The 

Eleusinian 
games 
primarily 
concerned 
with 

Demeter 
and Per- 
sephone. 
The 

Ancestral 
Contest in 
the games 
may have 
been 

originally 
a contest 
between 
the reapers 
to finish 
reaping. 



Eleusinian games were closely connected with the worship of 
Demeter and Persephone. The grain thus distributed in 
prizes was probably reaped on the Rarian plain near Eleusis, 
where according to the legend Triptolemus sowed the first 
corn.^ Certainly we know that the barley grown on that 
plain was used in sacrifices and for the baking of the sacrificial 
cakes/ from which we may reasonably infer that the prizes of 
barley, to which no doubt a certain sanctity attached in the 
popular mind, were brought from the same holy fields. So 
sacred was the Rarian plain that no dead body was allowed 
to defile it. When such a pollution accidentally took place, 
it was expiated by the sacrifice of a pig,^ the usual victim 
employed in Greek purificatory rites. 

Thus, so far as the scanty evidence at our disposal per- 
mits us to judge, the Eleusinian games, like the Eleusinian 
Mysteries, would seem to have been primarily concerned 
with Demeter and Persephone as goddesses of the corn. At 
least that is expressly affirmed by the old scholiast on 
Pindar and it is borne out by the practice of rewarding the 
victors with measures of barley. Perhaps the Ancestral 
Contest, which may well have formed the original nucleus of 
the games, was a contest between the reapers on the sacred 
Rarian plain to see who should finish his allotted task before 
his fellows. For success in such a contest no prize could be 
more appropriate than a measure of the sacred barley which 
the victorious reaper had just cut on the barley-field. In 
the sequel we shall see that similar contests between reapers 
have been common on the harvest fields of modern Europe, 
and it will appear that such competitions are not purely 



tions ears of corn as the prize without 
specifying the kind of corn. In the 
official Athenian inscription of 329 B.C., 
though the amount of corn distributed 
in prizes both at the quadriennial and at 
the biennial games is stated, we are not 
told whether the corn was barley or 
wheat. See Dittenberger, Sylloge In- 
scriptionutn Graecarum,^ No. 587, 
lines 259 s^. According to Aristides 
(Eleusin. vol. i. p. 417, cd. G. Dindorf, 
compare p. 168) the prize consisted of 
the corn which had first appeared at 
Eleusis. 



1 Alarmor Parium, in Fragmenta 
Historicoru7n Graecorian, ed. C. Mtiller, 
i. 544. That the Rarian plain was the 
first to be sown and the first to bear 
crops is affirmed by Pausanias (i. 38. 6). 

2 Pausanias, i. 38. 6. 

3 Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tionum Graecartwt,'^ No. 587, lines 
119 sq. In the same inscription, a few 
lines lower down, mention is made of 
two pigs which were used in purifying 
the sanctuary at Eleusis. On the pig 
in Greek purificatory rites, see my notes 
on Pausanias, ii. 31.8 and v. 16. 8. 



I 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 75 

athletic ; their aim is not simply to demonstrate the superior 
strength, activity, and skill of the victors ; it is to secure for 
the particular farm the possession of the blooming young 
Corn-maiden of the present year, conceived as the embodiment 
of the vigorous grain, and to pass on to laggard neighbours 
the aged Corn-mother of the past year, conceived as an 
embodiment of the effete and outworn energies of the corn.^ 
May it not have been so at Eleusis ? may not the reapers 
have vied with each other for possession of the young corn- 
spirit Persephone and for avoidance of the old corn-spirit 
Demeter ? may not the prize of barley, which rewarded the 
victor in the Ancestral Contest, have been supposed to house 
in the ripe ears no less a personage than the Corn-maiden 
Persephone herself? And if there is any truth in these con- The 
jectures (for conjectures they are and nothing more), we may ^"^jg^j^* 
hazard a guess as to the other Ancestral Contest which took in the 

F t' 1 

place at the Eleusinian Festival of the Threshing-floor. ^^^^^ 
Perhaps it in like manner was originally a competition between Threshing- 
threshers on the sacred threshing-floor of Triptolemus to de- jj°°g ^gg^ 
termine who should finish threshing his allotted quantity of originally 
corn before the rest. Such competitions have also been between 
common, as we shall see presently, on the threshing-floors of t^e 

' ^ . . i_ • 1 threshers 

modern Europe, and their motive agam has not been simple to finish 
emulation between sturdy swains for the reward of strength threshing. 
and dexterity ; it has been a dread of being burdened with 
the aged and outworn spirit of the corn conceived as present 
in the bundle of corn-stalks which receives the last stroke at 
threshing." We know that effigies of Demeter with corn and 
poppies in her hands stood on Greek threshing-floors.^ 
Perhaps at the conclusion of the threshing these effigies, as 
representatives of the old Corn-spirit, were passed on to 
neighbours who had not yet finished threshing the corn. At 
least the supposition is in harmony with modern customs 
observed on the threshing-floor. 

It is possible that the Eleusinian games were no more Games at 
than a popular merrymaking celebrated at the close of the festivals in 
harvest. This view of their character might be supported by modern 
modern analogies ; for in some parts of Germany it has been 

1 See below, pp. 140 s^^., 155 ^ See below, pp. 147 sgg., 221 s^., 

sqq., 164 sqq.^ compare 218 sqq. 223 sq. ^ See above, p. 43. 



76 DE METER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

customary for the harvesters, when their work is done, 
to engage in athletic competitions of various kinds, which 
have at first sight no very obvious connexion with the 
business of harvesting. For example, at Besbau near Luckau 
great cakes were baked at the harvest -festival, and the 
labourers, both men and women, ran races for them. He or 
she who reached them first received not only a cake, but a 
handkerchief or the like as a prize. Again, at Bergkirchen, 
when the harvest was over, a garland was hung up and the 
harvesters rode at it on horseback and tried to bring it down 
with a stab or a blow as they galloped past He who 
succeeded in bringing it down was proclaimed King. Again, 
in the villages near Furstenwald at harvest the young men 
used to fetch a fir-tree from the wood, peel the trunk, and 
set it up like a mast in the middle of the village. A hand- 
kerchief and other prizes were fastened to the top of the pole 
and the men clambered up for them.^ Among the peasantry 
of Silesia, we are told, the harvest-home broadened out into 
a popular festival, in which athletic sports figured prominently. 
Thus, for example, at Jarischau, in the Strehlitz district, a 
scythe, a rake, a flail, and a hay-fork or pitchfork were fastened 
to the top of a smooth pole and awarded as prizes, in order 
of merit, to the men who displayed most agility in climbing 
the pole. Younger men amused themselves with running in 
sacks, high jumps, and so forth. At Prauss, near Nimptsch, 
the girls ran a race in a field for aprons as prizes. In the 
central parts of Silesia a favourite amusement at harvest was 
a race between girls for a garland of leaves or flowers.^ Yet 
it seems probable that all such sports at harvest were in 
origin not mere pastimes, but that they were serious attempts 
to secure in one way or another the help and blessing of the 
corn-spirit. Thus in some parts of Prussia, at the close of 
the rye-harvest, a few sheaves used to be left standing in the 
field after all the rest of the rye had been carted home. 
These sheaves were then made up into the shape of a man 
and dressed out in masculine costume, and all the young 
women were obliged to run a race, of which the corn-man 

' A. Kuhn und W. Schwartz, Nord- ^ P. Drechsler, StUe, Branch vnd 

detitsche Sagen, Mdrchen U77d Gehrduche Volksglaube in Schlesien (Leipsic, 1903- 
(Leipsic, 1848), pp. 398, 399, 400. 1906), ii. 70 sq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 77 

was the goal. She who won the race led off the dancing in 
the evening.^ Here the aim of the foot-race among the 
young women is clearly to secure the corn-spirit embodied 
in the last sheaf left standing on the field ; for, as we shall 
see later on, the last sheaf is commonly supposed to harbour 
the corn-spirit and is treated accordingly like a man or a 
woman.^ 

If the Ancestral Contest at the Eleusinian games was, as Date 
I have conjectured, a contest between the reapers on the Eieu^inian 
sacred barley-field, we should have to suppose that the games games 
were celebrated at barley-harvest, which in the lowlands of 
Greece falls in May or even at the end of April. This theory 
is in harmony with the evidence of the scholiast on Pindar, 
who tells us that the Eleusinian games were celebrated after 
the corn -harvest.^ No other ancient authority, so far as 
I am aware, mentions at what time of the year these games 
were held. Modern authorities, arguing from certain slight 
and to some extent conjectural data, have variously assigned 
them to Metageitnion (August) and to Boedromion 
(September), and those who assign them to Boedromion 
(September) are divided in opinion as to whether they 
preceded or followed the Mysteries.* However, the evidence 
is far too slender and uncertain to allow of any conclusions 
being based on it. 

But there is a serious difficulty in the way of connecting Why 
the Eleusinian games with the goddesses of the corn. How games 
is the quadriennial or the biennial period of the games to be intended to 
reconciled with the annual growth of the crops ? Year by the annual 
year the barley and the wheat are sown and reaped ; how growth of 

^ ^ the crops 

^ A. Kuhn, Mdrkische Sagen und view and preferred to suppose that the be held 

Mdrchen (Berlin, 1843), pp. 341 sq. games preceded the Mysteries. See o^^y every 

2 See below, pp. 133 sqq. Aug. Mommsen, Heortologie {Leipsic, second or 

3 Scholiast on Pindar, Olymp. ix. 1864), p. 263 ; id., Feste der Stadt ^^^'f' 
150, p. 228, ed, Aug. Boeckh. Athen im Altertiim (Leipsic, 1898), ^^^^ 

* The games are assigned to Meta- pp. 182 sqq. ; Dittenberger, Sylloge 

geitnion by P. Stengel (Pauly-Wissowa, Inscriptionum Graecartim,- No. 587, 

Real-Encydopddie der dassischen Alter- note ^"^ (vol. ii. pp. 313 sq.). The 

tumswissenschaft, v. 2. coll. 2331 sq.) dating of the games in Metageitnion or 

and to Boedromion by August Mommsen in the early part of Boedromion depends 

and W. Dittenberger. The last-men- on little more than a series of con- 

tioned scholar supposes that the games jectures, particularly the conjectural 

immediately followed the Mysteries, restoration of an inscription and the 

and August Mommsen formerly thought conjectural dating of a certain sacrifice 

so too, but he afterwards changed his to Democracy. 



yS DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

then could the games, held only every fourth or every second 
year, have been regarded as thank-offerings for the annual 
harvest ? On this view of their nature, which is the one 
taken by the old scholiast on Pindar, though the harvest 
was received at the hands of the Corn Goddess punctually 
every year, men thanked her for her bounty only every 
second year or even only every fourth year. What were 
her feelings likely to be in the blank years when she 
got no thanks and no games? She might naturally 
resent such negligence and ingratitude and punish them 
by forbidding the seed to sprout, just as she did at Eleusis 
when she mourned the loss of her daughter. In short, 
men could hardly expect to reap crops in years in which 
they offered nothing to the Corn Goddess. That would 
indeed appear to be the view generally taken by the 
ancient Greeks ; for we have seen that year by year 
they presented the first - fruits of the barley and the 
wheat to Demeter, not merely in the solemn state ritual 
of Eleusis, but also in rustic festivals held by farmers 
on their threshing-floors. The pious Greek husbandman 
would no doubt have been shocked and horrified at a 
proposal to pay the Corn Goddess her dues only every 
second or fourth year. " No offerings, no crops," he would 
say to himself, and would anticipate nothing but dearth and 
famine in any year when he failed to satisfy the just and 
lawful demands of the divinity on whose good pleasure he 
believed the growth of the corn to be directly dependent. 
Accordingly we may regard it as highly probable that from 
the very beginning of settled and regular agriculture in 
Greece men annually propitiated the deities of the corn with 
a ritual of some sort, and rendered them their dues in the 
The shape of offerings of the ripe barley and wheat. Now we 

M^sterks" '^"ow that the Mysteries of Eleusis were celebrated every 
probably year, and accordingly, if I am right in interpreting them as 
than the ^^ essentially a dramatic representation of the annual vicissi- 
Eieusinian tudcs of the com performed for the purpose of quickening 
™^ ■ the seed, it becomes probable that in some form or another 
they were annually held at Eleusis long before the practice 
arose of celebrating games there every fourth or every second 
year. In short, the Eleusinian mysteries were in all prob- 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 79 

ability far older than the Eleusinian games. How old they 
were we cannot even guess. But when we consider that the 
cultivation of barley and wheat, the two cereals specially 
associated with Demeter, appears to have been practised in 
prehistoric Europe from the Stone Age onwards,^ we shall 
be disposed to admit that the annual performance of religi- 
ous or magical rites at Eleusis for the purpose of ensuring 
good crops, whether by propitiating the Corn Goddess with 
offerings of first-fruits or by dramatically representing the 
sowing and the growth of the corn in mythical form, prob- 
ably dates from an extremely remote antiquity. 

But in order to clear our ideas on this subject it is Quad- 
desirable to ascertain, if possible, the reason for holding the "g^^Jfof 
Eleusinian games at intervals of two or four years. The many of 
reason for holding a harvest festival and thanksgiving every Lmerof 
year is obvious enough ; but why hold games only every Greece, 
second or every fourth year ? The reason for such limita- 
tions is by no means obvious on the face of them, especially 
if the growth of the crops is deemed dependent on the 
celebration. In order to find an answer to this question it 
may be well at the outset to confine our attention to the 
Great Eleusinian Games, which were celebrated only every 
fourth year. That these were the principal games appears 
not only from their name, but from the testimony of Aris- 
totle, or at least of the author of The Constitution of Athens, 
who notices only the quadriennial or, as in accordance with 
Greek idiom he calls it, the penteteric celebration of the 
games.^ Now the custom of holding games at intervals of 

1 A. de Candolle, Origin of Culti- (Oxford, 1909), p. 362. 
vated Plants (London, 1884), pp. 354 ^ Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 

^<l-i 367 sqq. ; R. Munro, The Lake- 54, where the quadriennial (penteteric) 

dwellings of Europe (London, Paris, festival of the Eleusinian Games is 

and Melbourne, 1890), pp. 497 sqq. ; mentioned along with the quadriennial 

O. Schrader, Reallexikon der indoger- festivals of the Panathenaica, the Delia, 

manischen Altertumskunde (Strasburg, the Brauronia, and the Heraclea. The 

1901), pp. 8 sqq. ; id., Sprachverglei- biennial (trieteric) festival of the Eleu- 

chtmg icnd Urgeschichte (Jena, 1906- sinian Games is mentioned only in the 

1907), ii. 185 sqq. ; H. Hirt, Die inscription of 329 B.C. (Dittenberger, 

Indogermane?t (Strasburg, 1905-1907), Sylloge Inscriptionutn Graecarmn,^'iio. 

i. 254 sqq., 273 sq., 276 sqq., ii. 640 587, lines 259 sq.). As to the iden- 

sqq. ; M. Much, Die Heimat der tity of the Great Eleusinian Games 

Indogermanen (Jena and Berlin, 1904), with the quadriennial games see Ditten- 

pp. 221 sqq. ; T. E. Peet, The Stone berger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Grae- 

and Bronze Ages in Italy and Sicily carum. No. 246 note ^ No. 587 note i"'. 



8o 



DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 



Old octen- 
nial period 
of the 
Pythian 
and prob- 
ably of the 
Olympian 
games. 



The octen- 
nial cycle 
was in- 
stituted by 
the Greeks 
at a very 
early era 
for the 
purpose of 
harmonis- 
ing solar 
and lunar 
time. 



four years was very common in Greece ; to take only a few 
conspicuous examples the Olympic games at Olympia, the 
Pythian games at Delphi, the Panathenaic games at Athens, 
and the Eleutherian games at Plataea ^ were all celebrated 
at quadriennial or, as the Greeks called them, penteteric 
periods ; and at a later time when Augustus instituted, or 
rather renewed on a more splendid scale, the games at 
Actium to commemorate his great victory, he followed a well- 
established Greek precedent by ordaining that they should 
be quadriennial.^ Still later the "emperor Hadrian instituted 
quadriennial games at Mantinea in honour of his dead 
favourite Antinous.^ But in regard to the two greatest of 
all the Greek games, the Olympian and the Pythian, I have 
shewn reasons for thinking that they were originally cele- 
brated at intervals of eight instead of four years ; certainly 
this is attested for the Pythian games,* and the mode of 
calculating the Olympiads by alternate periods of fifty and 
forty-nine lunar months,^ which added together make up 
eight solar years, seems to prove that the Olympic cycle of 
four years was really based on a cycle of eight years, from 
which it is natural to infer that in the beginning the 
Olympic, like the Pythian, games may have been octennial 
instead of quadriennial.^ Now we know from the testimony 
of the ancients themselves that the Greeks instituted the 
eight-years' cycle for the purpose of harmonising solar and 
lunar time.^ They regulated their calendar primarily by ob- 
servation of the moon rather than of the sun ; their months 
were lunar, and their ordinary year consisted of twelve lunar 



1 As to the Plataean games see 
Plutarch, Aristides, 21 ; Pausanias, 
ix. 2. 6. 

2 Strabo, vii. 7. 6, p. 325 ; Sue- 
tonius, Augustus, 18 ; Die Cassias, li. 
I ; Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire 
des Antiquitis Grecqties et Romaines, 
s.v. " Actia." 

^ Pausanias, viii. 9. 8. 

* Scholiast on Pindar, Fyth., Argu- 
ment, p. 298, ed. Aug. Boeckh ; 
Censorinus, De die natali, xviii. 6. 
According to the scholiast on Pindar 
(I.e.) the change from the octennial to 
the quadriennial period was occasioned 
by the nymphs of Parnassus bringing 



ripe fruits in their hands to Apollo, 
after he had slain the dragon at Delphi. 

^ Scholiast on Pindar, Oly?np. iii. 35 
(20), p. 98, ed. Aug. Boeckh. Compare 
Boeckh's commentary on Pindar (vol. 
iii. p. 138 of his edition) ; L. Ideler, 
Handbuch der mathematischen und 
technischen Chronologic, i. 366 sq., ii. 
605 sqq. 

6 See The Dyittg God, chapter ii. 
§ 4, "Octennial Tenure of the King- 
ship," especially pp. 68 sq., 80, Sg sq. 

^ Geminus, Elementa Astrotiomiae, 
viii. 25 sqq., pp. IIO sqq., ed. C. 
Manitius (Leipsic, 1898) ; Censorinus, 
De die natali, xviii. 2-6. 



s 

a DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 8i 

months. But the solar year of three hundred and sixty-five 
and a quarter days exceeds the lunar year of twelve lunar 
months or three hundred and fifty-four days by eleven and a 
quarter days, so that in eight solar years the excess amounts 
to ninety days or roughly three lunar months. Accord- 
ingly the Greeks equated eight solar years to eight lunar 
years of twelve months each by intercalating three lunar 
months of thirty days each in the octennial cycle ; they 
intercalated one lunar month in the third year of the cycle, 
a second lunar month in the fifth year, and a third lunar 
month in the eighth year.^ In this way they, so to say, 
made the sun and moon keep time together by reckon- 
ing ninety-nine lunar months as equivalent to eight solar 
years ; so that if, for example, the full moon coincided with 
the summer solstice in one year, it coincided with it again 
after the revolution of the eight years' cycle, but not before. 
The equation was indeed not quite exact, and in order to 
render it so the Greeks afterwards found themselves obliged, 
first, to intercalate three days every sixteen years, and, next, 
to omit one intercalary month in every period of one hundred 
and sixty years.^ But these corrections were doubless refine- 
ments of a later age ; they may have been due to the 
astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus, or to Cleostratus of Tenedos, 
who were variously, but incorrectly, supposed to have insti- 
tuted the octennial cycle.^ There are strong grounds for 
holding that in its simplest form the octennial cycle of 
ninety-nine lunar months dates from an extremely remote 
antiquity in Greece ; that it was in fact, as a well-informed 
Greek writer tell us,* the first systematic attempt to bring 
solar and the lunar time into harmony. Indeed, if the 

1 Geminus, I.e. or fifth century B.C., cannot be dis- 

2 Geminus, Eleinenta Astrouoi/iiae, missed so summarily ; but for tlie 
viii. 36-41. reasons given in the text he can hardly 

3 Censorinus, De die natali, xviii. 5. have done more than suggest correc- 
As Eudoxus flourished in the fourth tions or improvements of the ancient 
century B.C., some sixty or seventy octennial cycle. 

years after Meton, who introduced the ^ Geminus, Eleinenta Astronomiae, 

nineteen years' cycle to remedy the viii. 27. With far less probability 

defects of the octennial cycle, the Censorinus {De die natali, xviii. 2-4) 

claim of Eudoxus to have instituted supposes that the octennial cycle was 

the latter cycle may at once be put out produced by the successive duplication 

of court. The claim of Cleostratus, of biennial and quadriennial cycles, 

who seems to have lived in the sixth See below, pp. 86 sq. 

PT. V. VOL. I G 



82 DE METER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

Olympiads were calculated, as they appear to have been, on 
the eight years' cycle, this of itself suffices to place the origin 
of the cycle not later than yy6 B.C., the year with which 
the reckoning by Olympiads begins. And when we bear in 
mind the very remote period from which, judged by the 
wonderful remains of Mycenae, Tiryns, Cnossus and other 
cities, civilisation in Greek lands appears to date, it seems 
reasonable to suppose that the octennial cycle, based as it 
was on very simple observations, for which nothing but good 
eyes and almost no astronomical knowledge was necessary,^ 
may have been handed down among the inhabitants of these 
countries from ages that preceded by many centuries, possibly 
by thousands of years, the great period of Greek literature 
and art. The supposition is confirmed by the traces which 
the octennial cycle has left of itself in certain ancient 
Greek customs and superstitions, particularly by the evi- 
dence which points to the conclusion that at two of the 
oldest seats of monarchy in Greece, namely Cnossus and 
Sparta, the king's tenure of office was formerly limited to 
eight years.^ 
The motive We are informed, and may readily believe, that the 

tut'^'^^A "motive which led the Greeks to adopt the eight years' cycle 
eight years' was religious rather than practical or scientific: their aim 
refeiour ^^^^ "°^ ^° much to cnsurc the punctual despatch of business 
not prac- or to solvc an abstract problem in astronomy, as to ascertain 
scientific. ^^^ exact days on which they ought to sacrifice to the gods. 
For the Greeks regularly employed lunar months in their 
reckonings,^ and accordingly if they had dated their religious 
festivals simply by the number of the month and the day of 

1 L. Ideler, Handbuch der viatlie- the wide diffusion of the octennial 
matischen und technischen Chronologic, cycle in Greece are rightly maintained 
ii. 605. by A. Schmidt {Handbuch der grie- 

2 The Dying God, pp. 58 sqq. c/iischen Chrono/ogie, Jena, 1S8S, pp. 61 
Speaking of the octennial cycle Cen- si/ij. ), who suggests that the cycle may 
sorinus observes that " Ob hoc in have owed something to the astronomy 
Graecia multae religiones hoc intervallo of the Egyptians, with whom the in- 
temporis suninia caerifnonia cohmtttr " habitants of Greece are known to 
{De die natali, xviii. 6). Compare have had relations from a very early 
L. Ideler, op. cit. ii. 605 sq. ; G. F. time. 

Unger, " Zeitrechnung der Griechen 3 Aratus, Phaenomefia, 733 sqq. ; 

und Romer," in I wan Miiller's Hand- L. Ideler, Handbuch der mathenia- 

biich der classischen Altertumswissen- tischen und technischen Chronologie, i. 

schaft, i.2 732 sq. The great age and 255 sq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 83 

the month, the excess of eleven and a quarter days of the 
solar over the lunar year would have had the effect of caus- 
ing the festivals gradually to revolve throughout the whole 
circle of the seasons, so that in time ceremonies which 
properly belonged to winter would come to be held in 
summer, and on the contrary ceremonies which were only 
appropriate to summer would come to be held in winter. 
To avoid this anomaly, and to ensure that festivals dated by 
lunar months should fall at fixed or nearly fixed points in 
the solar year, the Greeks adopted the octennial cycle by 
the simple expedient of intercalating three lunar months in 
every period of eight years. In doing so they acted, as one 
of their writers justly pointed out, on a principle precisely 
the reverse of that followed by the ancient Egyptians, who 
deliberately regulated their religious festivals by a purely 
lunar calendar for the purpose of allowing them gradually to 
revolve throughout the whole circle of the seasons.^ 

Thus at an early stage of culture the regulation of the in early 
calendar is largely an affair of religion : it is a means of re^^iation 
maintaining the established relations between gods and men of the 
on a satisfactory footing ; and in public opinion the great largely an 
evil of a disordered calendar is not so much that it disturbs =^^''' of 

... , . - , . , , religion. 

and disarranges the ordmary course of busmess and the 
various transactions of civil life, as that it endangers the 
welfare or even the existence both of individuals and of 
the community by interrupting their normal intercourse with 
those divine powers on whose favour men believe themselves 
to be absolutely dependent. Hence in states which take 
this view of the deep religious import of the calendar its 
superintendence is naturally entrusted to priests rather than 
to astronomers, because the science of astronomy is regarded 
merely as ancillary to the deeper mysteries of theology. 
For example, at Rome the method of determining the 
months and regulating the festivals was a secret which the 
pontiffs for ages jealously guarded from the profane vulgar ; 
and in consequence of their ignorance and incapacity the 
calendar fell into confusion and the festivals were celebrated 
out of their natural seasons, until the greatest of all the 
Roman pontiffs, Julius Caesar, remedied the confusion and 

1 Geminus, Elementa Astronomiae, viii. I5-45' 



84 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



The quad- 
riennial 
period of 
games and 
festivals in 
Greece was 
probably 
arrived at 
by bisect- 
ing an 
older 
octennial 
period. 



placed the calendar of the civilised world on the firm founda- 
tion on which, with little change, it stands to this day.^ 

On the whole, then, it appears probable that the octennial 
cycle, based on considerations of religion and on elementary 
observations of the two great luminaries, dated from a very 
remote period among the ancient Greeks ; if they did not 
bring it with them when they migrated southwards from the 
oakwoods and beechwoods of Central Europe, they may 
well have taken it over from their civilised predecessors of 
different blood and different language whom they found 
leading a settled agricultural life on the lands about the 
Aegean Sea. Now we have seen reasons to hold that the 
two most famous of the great Greek games, the Pythian and 
the Olympian, were both based on the ancient cycle of 
eight years, and that the quadriennial period at which they 
were regularly celebrated in historical times was arrived at 
by a subdivision of the older octennial cycle. It is hardly 
rash, therefore, to conjecture that the quadriennial period in 
general, regarded as the normal period for the celebration of 
great games and festivals, was originally founded on element- 
ary religious and astronomical considerations of the same 
kind, that is, on a somewhat crude attempt to harmonise 
the discrepancies of solar and lunar time and thereby to 
ensure the continued favour of the gods. It is, indeed, 
certain or probable that some of these quadriennial festivals 
were celebrated in honour of the dead ; ^ but there seems to 
be nothing in the beliefs or customs of the ancient Greeks 
concerning the dead which would suggest a quadriennial 
period as an appropriate one for propitiating the ghosts of 
the departed. At first sight it is different with the octennial 
period ; for according to Pindar, the souls of the dead who 
had been purged of their guilt by an abode of eight years 
in the nether world were born again on earth in the ninth 
year as glorious kings, athletes, and sages.^ Now if this 
belief in the reincarnation of the dead after eight years were 



^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, i. 15. 9 
sqq. ; Livy, ix. 46. 5 ; Valerius Maxi- 
mus, ii. 5. 2 ; Cicero, Pro Muraena, 
xi. 25 ; id., De legibus, ii. 12. 29 ; 
Suetonius, Divus lulius, 40 ; Plutarch, 
Caesar^ 59. 



2 See The Dying God, pp. 92 
sqq. 

3 Plato, Meno, p. 81 A-C ; Pindar, 
ed. Aug. Boeckh, vol. iii. pp. 623 sq., 
Frag. 98. See further The Dying God, 
pp. 69 iq. 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 85 

primitive, it might certainly furnish an excellent reason for 
honouring the ghosts of great men at their graves every 
eight years in order to facilitate their rebirth into the world. 
Yet the period of eight years thus rigidly applied to the life 
of disembodied spirits appears too arbitrary and conventional 
to be really primitive, and we may suspect that in this 
application it was nothing but an inference drawn from the 
old octennial cycle, which had been instituted for the purpose 
of reconciling solar and lunar time. If that was so, it will 
follow that the quadriennial period of funeral games was, 
like the similar period of other religious festivals, obtained 
through the bisection of the octennial cycle, and hence that 
it was ultimately derived from astronomical considerations 
rather than from any beliefs touching a quadriennial revolu- 
tion in the state of the dead. Yet in historical times it may 
well have happened that these considerations were forgotten, 
and that games and festivals were instituted at quadriennial 
intervals, for example at Plataea ^ in honour of the slain, 
at Actium to commemorate the great victory, and at 
Mantinea in honour of Antinous,^ without any conscious 
reference to the sun and moon, and merely because that 
period had from time immemorial been regarded as the 
proper and normal one for the celebration of certain solemn 
religious rites. 

If we enquire why the Greeks so often bisected the old The 
octennial period into two quadriennial periods for purposes [,'jse°t'j'n/°' 
of religion, the answer can only be conjectural, for no the old 
positive information appears to be given us on the subject pedodTnto 
by ancient writers. Perhaps they thought that eight years two quad- 
was too long a time to elapse between the solemn services, periods 
and that it was desirable to propitiate the deities at shorter may have 

1 -r» • • Mil !• • 1 11 t)een partly 

mtervals. But it is possible that political as well as religious, 
religious motives may have operated to produce the change. P^"^y 
We have seen reason to think that at two of the oldest seats 
of monarchy in Greece, namely Cnossus and Sparta, kings 
formerly held office for periods of eight years only, after 
which their sovereignty either terminated or had to be formally 
renewed. Now with the gradual growth of that democratic 

1 Plutarch, Aristides, 21 ; Pausanias, ix. 2. 6. 
^ See above, p. 80. 



86 DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE chap. 

sentiment, which ultimately dominated Greek political life, 
men would become more and more jealous of the kingly power 
and would seek to restrict it within narrower limits, and one 
of the most obvious means of doing so was to shorten the 
king's tenure of office. We know that this was done at 
Athens, where the dynasty of the Medontids was reduced 
from the rank of monarchs for life to that of magistrates 
holding office for ten years only.^ It is possible that else- 
where the king's reign was cut down from eight years to 
four years ; and if I am right in my explanation of the 
origin of the Olympic games this political revolution actu- 
ally took place at Olympia, where the victors in the chariot- 
race would seem at first to have personated the Sun-god 
and perhaps held office in the capacity of divine kings 
during the intervals between successive celebrations of the 
games." If at Olympia and elsewhere the games were of 
old primarily contests in which the king had personally to 
take part for the purpose of attesting his bodily vigour and 
therefore his capacity for office, the repetition of the test at 
intervals of four instead of eight years might be regarded 
as furnishing a better guarantee of the maintenance of the 
king's efficiency and thereby of the general welfare, which 
in primitive society is often supposed to be sympathetically 
bound up with the health and strength of the king. 
The bien- But while many of the great Greek games were celebrated 

orsome ° ^^ intervals of four years, others, such as the Nemean and the 
Greek Isthmian, were celebrated at intervals of two years only ; and 
havTbeen^ just as the quadriennial period seems to have been arrived at 
obtained through a bisection of the octennial period, so we may surmise 
ing the that the biennial period was produced by a bisection of the 
quadrien- quadriennial period. This was the view which the admirable 

nial period. , 

modern chronologer L. Ideler took of the origin of the quad- 
riennial and biennial festivals respectively,^ and it appears far 
more probable than the contrary opinion of the ancient chrono- 
loger Censorinus, that the quadriennial period was reached by 
doubling the biennial, and the octennial period by doubling 

1 Pausanias, iv. 5. 10 ; compare 2 See The Dying God, pp. 89- 

Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, iii. 92. 

I ; G. Gilbert, Handbuch der ^ l Ideler, Handbuch der mathe- 

griechischen Staatsalterthumer, i.2 matischen und technischen Chronologic, 

(Leipsic, 1893) pp. 122 sq. ii. 606 sq. 



II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 87 

the quadriennial.^ The theory of Censorinus was that the 
Greeks started with a biennial cycle of twelve and thirteen 
lunar months alternately in successive years for the purpose 
of harmonising solar and lunar time." But as the cycle so 
produced exceeds the true solar time by seven and a half 
days,^ the discrepancy which it leaves between the two 
great celestial clocks, the sun and moon, was too glaring to 
escape the observation even of simple farmers, who would 
soon have been painfully sensible that the times were out of 
joint, if they had attempted to regulate the various operations 
of the agricultural year by reference to so very inaccurate an 
almanac. It is unlikely, therefore, that the Greeks ever 
made much use of a biennial cycle of this sort. 

Now to apply these conclusions to the Eleusinian games, Appika- 
which furnished the starting-point for the preceding dis- V°" "'^ '^^ 

° ^ jr & foregoing 

cussion. Whatever the origin and meaning of these games conclusion 
may have been, we may surmise that the quadriennial and Kieusinian 
biennial periods at which they were held were originally games. 
derived from astronomical considerations, and that they had 
nothing to do directly either with the agricultural cycle, 
which is annual, nor with the worship of the dead, which can 
scarcely be said to have any cycle at all, unless indeed it be 
an annual one. In other words, neither the needs of 
husbandry nor the superstitions relating to ghosts furnish 
any natural explanation of the quadriennial and biennial 
periods of the Eleusinian games, and to discover such an 
explanation we are obliged to fall back on astronomy or, to 
be more exact, on that blend of astronomy with religion 
which appears to be mainly responsible for such Greek 
festivals as exceed a year in their period. To admit this is 
not to decide the question whether the Eleusinian games 
were agricultural or funereal in character ; but it is im- 
plicitly to acknowledge that the games were of later origin 
than the annual ceremonies, including the Great Mysteries, 
which were designed to propitiate the deities of the corn 
for the very simple and practical purpose of ensuring good 
crops within the year. For it cannot but be that men 

1 Censorinus, De die natali, xviii. ^ L. Ideler, Handbuch der niathe- 

2-4. matiscken und technischen Chronologie, 

' Censoiinus, De die Hawaii, xviii. 2. i. 270. 



88 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



Varro on 
the rites of 
Eleusis. 



The close 
resem- 
blance 
between 
the artistic 
types of 
Demeter 
and Per- 
sephone 



observed and laid their account with the annual changes of 
the seasons, especially as manifested by the growth and 
maturity of the crops, long before they attempted to recon- 
cile the discrepancies of solar and lunar time by a series of 
observations extending over several years. 

On the whole, then, if, ignoring theories, we adhere to 
the evidence of the ancients themselves in regard to the 
rites of Eleusis, including under that general term the 
Great Mysteries, the games, the Festival before Ploughing 
{proerosia), the Festival of the Threshing-floor, the Green 
Festival, the Festival of the Cornstalks, and the offerings 
of first-fruits, we shall probably incline to agree with the 
most learned of ancient antiquaries, the Roman Varro, 
who, to quote Augustine's report of his opinion, " inter- 
preted the whole of the Eleusinian mysteries as relating 
to the corn which Ceres (Demeter) had discovered, and 
to Proserpine (Persephone), whom Pluto had carried off 
from her. And Proserpine herself, he said, signifies the 
fecundity of the seeds, the failure of which at a certain time 
had caused the earth to mourn for barrenness, and therefore 
had given rise to the opinion that the daughter of Ceres, that 
is, fecundity itself, had been ravished by Pluto and detained 
in the nether world ; and when the dearth had been 
publicly mourned and fecundity had returned once more, 
there was gladness at the return of Proserpine and solemn 
rites were instituted accordingly. After that he says," 
continues Augustine, reporting Varro, " that many things 
were taught in her mysteries which had no reference but to 
the discovery of the corn." ^ 

Thus far I have for the most part assumed an identity 
of nature between Demeter and Persephone, the divine 
mother and daughter personifying the corn in its double 
aspect of the seed-corn of last year and the ripe ears of 
this, and I pointed out that this view of the substantial 
unity of mother and daughter is borne out by their portraits 



1 Augustine, De civitate Dei, vii. 20. Ce7-es iiivenit, et ad Proserpinat7i, 

'■'■In Cereris ante/n sacris praedi- guam rapiejile Oreo perdidit. Ethane 

cantur ilia Eleusinia, quae apud ipsam dicit significare foeciinditatcm 

Athenieiises nobilissi?na fiierunt. De seminum. . . . Dicit delude multa in 

qulbjis iste [ Varrd\ nihil interpret at itr, mysteriis ejus tradi, quae nisi ad 

nisi quod at tine t ad fruinentuni, quod fruguni invent ionem non pertineant." 



II DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 89 

in Greek art, which are often so aHke as to be indistinguish- militates 
able. Such a close resemblance between the artistic types theorrthal 
of Demeter and Persephone militates decidedly against the the two 

c^oddcssGs 

view that the two goddesses are mythical embodiments of personified 
two thins^s so different and so easily distinguishable from '^o things 

, , , , , . , . , . so different 

each other as the earth and the vegetation which springs as the 
from it. Had Greek artists accepted that view of Demeter ^f^^"^ ^"'^ 

^ . the corn. 

and Persephone, they could surely have devised types of 
them which would have brought out the deep distinction 
between the goddesses. That they were capable of doing 
so is proved by the simple fact that they regularly repre- 
sented the Earth Goddess by a type which differed widely 
both from that of Demeter and from that of Persephone.^ 
Not only so, but they sometimes set the two types of the 
Earth Goddess and the Corn Goddess (Demeter) side by 
side as if on purpose to demonstrate their difference. Thus 
at Patrae there was a sanctuary of Demeter, in which she 
and Persephone were portrayed standing, while Earth was 
represented by a seated image ; " and on a vase-painting 
the Earth Goddess is seen appropriately emerging from 
the ground with a horn of plenty and an infant in her 
uplifted arms, while Demeter and Persephone, scarcely dis- 
tinguishable from each other, stand at full height behind her, 
looking down at her half-buried figure, and Triptolemus in 
his wheeled car sits directly above her,^ In this instructive 
picture, accordingly, we see grouped together the principal 
personages in the myth of the corn : the Earth Goddess, the 
two Goddesses of the old and the new corn, and the hero 
who is said to have been sent forth by the Corn Goddess 
to sow the seed broadcast over the earth. Such represen- 
tations seem to prove that the artists clearly distinguished 
Demeter from the Earth Goddess.* And if Demeter did 

^ A. Baumeister, Denkmdkr des do not know how the goddesses were 

dassischen Altertums, i. 577 sq. ; represented. 

Drexler, s.v. " Gaia," in W. H. ^ l. r. Farnell, The Cults of^ the 

Roscher's Lexikon der griech. ttiid rout. Greek States, iii. 256 with plate xxi. b. 

Mythologie, i. 1574 sqq. ; L. R. Far- •» The distinction between Demeter 

nell, The Cults of the Greek States, (Ceres) and the Earth Goddess is clearly 

iii. (Oxford, 1907) p. 27. marked by Ovid, Fasti, iv. 673 sq. : 

2 Pausanias, vii. 21. ir. At " Officium commune Ceres et Terra 

Athens there was a sanctuary of Earth ttientur ; 

the Nursing - Mother and of Green Haec praebet causam frngibus, 

Demeter (Pausanias, i. 22. 3), but we ilia locum." 



90 



DE METER AND PERSEPHONE 



As god- 
desses of 
the corn 
Demeter 
and Per- 
sephone 
came to be 
associated 
with the 
ideas of 
death and 
resurrec- 
tion. 



not personify the earth, can there be any reasonable doubt 
that, Hke her daughter, she personified the corn which was 
so commonly called by her name from the time of Homer 
downwards ? The essential identity of mother and daughter 
is suggested, not only by the close resemblance of their 
artistic types, but also by the official title of " the Two 
Goddesses " which was regularly applied to them in the great 
sanctuary at Eleusis without any specification of their in- 
dividual attributes and titles,^ as if their separate individu- 
alities had almost merged in a single divine substance.^ 

Surveying the evidence as a whole, we may say that 
from the myth of Demeter and Persephone, from their ritual, 
from their representations in art, from the titles which they 
bore, from the offerings of first-fruits which were presented 
to them, and from the names applied to the cereals, we are 
fairly entitled to conclude that in the mind of the ordinary 
Greek the two goddesses were essentially personifications of 
the corn, and that in this germ the whole efflorescence of 
their religion finds implicitly its explanation. But to main- 
tain this is not to deny that in the long course of religious 
evolution high moral and spiritual conceptions were grafted 
on this simple original stock and blossomed out into fairer 
flowers than the bloom of the barley and the wheat. 
Above all, the thought of the seed buried in the earth in 
order to spring up to new and higher life readily suggested 
a comparison with human destiny, and strengthened the 
hope that for man too the grave may be but the beginning of 
a better and happier existence in some brighter v/orld unknown. 
This simple and natural reflection seems perfectly sufficient 
to explain the association of the Corn Goddess at Eleusis 
with the mystery of death and the hope of a blissful 
immortality. For that the ancients regarded initiation in 



^ Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscrip- 
tionum Graecaruni,^ Nos. 20, 408, 
411, 587, 646, 647, 652, 720, 789. 
Compare the expression duhvvfioL diai, 
applied to them by Euripides, Fkoe- 
nissae, 683, with the Scholiast's note. 

2 The substantial identity of 
Demeter and Persephone has been 
recognised by some modern scholars, 
though their interpretations of the 



myth do not altogether agree with the 
one adopted in the text. See F. 
G. Welcker, Griechische Gdtterlehre 
(Gottingen, 1857 -1862), ii. 532; L. 
Preller, in Pauly's Realeiicydopddie der 
classischen Aliertumswissenschaft, vi. 
106 sq. ; F. Lenormant, in Daremberg 
et Saglio, Dictionnaire des Atttiquitis 
Grecqiies et Roniaines, i. 2. pp. 1047 
sqq. 



s 

II DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE 91 

the Eleusini'an mysteries as a key to unlock the gates of 
Paradise appears to be proved by the allusions which well- 
informed writers among them drop to the happiness in store 
for the initiated hereafter.^ No doubt it is easy for us to 
discern the flimsiness of the logical foundation on which such 
high hopes were built.- But drowning men clutch at straws, 
and we need not wonder that the Greeks, like ourselves, 
with death before them and a great love of life in their 
hearts, should not have stopped to weigh with too nice a 
hand the arguments that told for and against the prospect 
of human immortality. The reasoning that satisfied Saint 
Paul ^ and has brought comfort to untold thousands of 
sorrowing Christians, standing by the deathbed or the 
open grave of their loved ones, was good enough to pass 
muster with ancient pagans, when they too bowed their 
heads under the burden of grief, and, with the taper of 
life burning low in the socket, looked forward into the 
darkness of the unknown. Therefore we do no indignity 
to the myth of Demeter and Persephone — one of the few 
myths in which the sunshine and clarity of the Greek 
genius are crossed by the shadow and mystery of death — 
when we trace its origin to some of the most familiar, yet 
eternally affecting aspects of nature, to the melancholy 
gloom and decay of autumn and to the freshness, the bright- 
ness, and the verdure of spring. 

^ Homeric Hynnn to Demeter, 480 poor butterfly argument on the wheel 

sqq. ; Pindar, quoted by Clement of of his inflexible logic. The cruel act, 

Alexandria, 5/row. iii. 3. 17, p. 518, ed. while it proves the hardness of the 

Potter; Sophocles, quoted by Plutarch, professor's head, says little for his 

De audie7idis poetis, 4 ; Isocrates, knowledge of human nature, which 

Panegyricus, 6 ; Cicero, De legibus, does not always act in strict accordance 

ii. 14. 36 ; Aristides, Eleusin. vol. i. with the impulse of the syllogistic 

p. 421, ed. G. Dindorf. machinery. See Erwin Rohde, 

Psyche^ (Ttibingen and Leipsic, 1903), 

- A learned German professor has i. 290 sqq. 

thought it worth while to break the ^ j Corinthians xv. 35 sqq. 



CHAPTER III 

MAGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF GAMES IN PRIMITIVE 
AGRICULTURE 

Games In the preceding chapter we saw that among the rites 
played as ^^ Elcusis wcrc Comprised certain athletic sports, such as 

magical '^ _ r ' 

ceremonies foot-raccs, horse-races, leaping, wrestling, and boxing, the 
the^CTwvth victors in which were rewarded with measures of barley 
of the distributed among them by the priests/ These sports the 
*^'^°^^' ancients themselves associated with the worship of Demeter 
and Persephone, the goddesses of the corn, and strange as 
such an association may seem to us, it is not without its 
analogy among the harvest customs of modern European 
peasantry,^ But to discover clear cases of games practised for 
the express purpose of promoting the growth of the crops, we 
must turn to more primitive agricultural communities than 
the Athenians of classical antiquity or the peoples of modern 
Europe. Such communities may be found at the present 
day among the savage tribes of Borneo and New Guinea, 
The who subsist mainly by tilling the ground. Among them we 

ofTemrai ^^^^ ^^^ Kayans or Bahaus of central Borneo as typical. 
Borneo, a They are essentially an agricultural people, and devote them- 
agricuiturai selves mainly to the cultivation of rice, which furnishes their 
people. staple food ; all other products of the ground are of sub- 
ordinate importance. Hence agriculture, we are told, 
dominates the whole life of these tribes : their year is the 
year of the cultivation of the rice, and they divide it into 
various periods which are determined by the conditions 
necessary for the tilling of the fields and the manipulation 

^ See above, p. 71, with the footnote''. 
^ See above, pp. 74 si/i/. 



CHAP. Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIvi AGRICULTURE 



93 



of the rice. "In tribes whose thoughts are so much en- 
grossed by agriculture it is no wonder that they associate 
with it their ideas of the powers which rule them for good 
or evil. The spirit- world stands in close connexion with 
the agriculture of the Bahaus; without the consent of the 
spirits no work in the fields may be undertaken. Moreover, 
all the great popular festivals coincide with the different 
periods of the cultivation of the rice. As the people are in 
an unusual state of affluence after harvest, all family festivals 
which require a large outlay are for practical reasons deferred 
till the New Year festival at the end of harvest. The two 
mighty spirits Amei Awi and his wife Buring Une, who, 
according to the belief of the Kayans, live in a world under 
ground, dominate the whole of the tillage and determine 
the issue of the harvest in great measure by the behaviour 
of the owner of the land, not so much by his moral conduct, 
as by the offerings he has made to the spirits and the atten- 
tion he has paid to their warnings. An important part in 
agriculture falls to the chief : at the festivals he has, in the 
name of the whole tribe, to see to it that the prescribed con- 
jurations are carried out by the priestesses. All religious The sacred 
ceremonies required for the cultivation of the ground take yf^"^*^'^^,., 
place in a small rice-field specially set apart for that pur- on which 
pose, called luma lali: here the chief's family ushers in ^^^ '■*^i'g'?"s 

*■ ' J ceremonies 

every fresh operation in the cultivation of the rice, such as requisite 
sowing, hoeing, and reaping : the solemn actions there per- ture^frT" 
formed have a symbolical significance."^ performed. 

Not only the chief's family among the Kayans has such Cere- 
a consecrated field ; every family possesses one of its own. "^°erved 
These little fields are never cultivated for the sake of their at the 
produce : they serve only as the scene of religious ceremonies fesu'vfi, 
and of those symbolical operations of agriculture which are 
afterwards performed in earnest on the real rice -fields.^ 
For example, at the festival before sowing a priestess sows 
some rice on the consecrated field of the chief's family and 
then calls on a number of young men and girls to com- 
plete the work ; the young men then dig holes in the ground 
with digging-sticks, and the girls come behind them and 

1 A. \V. Nieuwenhuis, Quer diurk Borneo (l^eyden, 1904-1907), i. 156^17. 
" A. W^. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. i. 164. 



94 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



Taboos 
observed 
at the 
sowing 
festival. 



Games 
played at 
the sowing 
festival. 



plant the rice-seed in the holes. Afterwards the priestesses 
lay offerings of food, wrapt in banana-leaves, here and there 
on the holy field, while they croon prayers to the spirits in 
soft tones, which are half drowned in the clashing music of 
the gongs. On another day women gather all kinds of edible 
leaves in their gardens and fields, boil them in water, and 
then sprinkle the water on the consecrated rice-field. But 
on that and other days of the festival the people attend also 
to their own wants, banqueting on a favourite species of rice 
and other dainties. The ceremonies connected with sowing 
last several weeks, and during this time certain taboos have 
to be observed by the people. Thus on the first day of the 
festival the whole population, except the very old and the 
very young, must refrain from bathing ; after that there 
follows a period of rest for eight nights, during which the 
people may neither work nor hold intercourse with their 
neighbours. On the tenth day the prohibition to bathe is 
again enforced ; and during the eight following days the 
great rice-field of the village, where the real crops are raised, 
is sowed.^ The reason for excluding strangers from the 
village at these times is a religious one. It is a fear lest 
the presence of strangers might frighten the spirits or put 
them in a bad humour, and so defeat the object of the 
ceremony ; for, while the religious ceremonies which accom- 
pany the cultivation of the rice differ somewhat from each 
other in different tribes, the ideas at the bottom of them, 
we are told, are everywhere the same : the aim always is to 
appease and propitiate the souls of the rice and the other 
spirits by sacrifices of all sorts.^ 

However, during this obligatory period of seclusion and 
rest the Kayans employ themselves in various pursuits, 
which, though at first sight they might seem to serve no 
other purpose than that of recreation, have really in the 
minds of the people a much deeper significance. For 



1 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer durch 
Borneo, i. 164-167. 

2 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. i. 
163. The motive assigned for the ex- 
clusion of strangers at the sowing festi- 
val applies equally to all religious rites. 
" In all religious observances," says 
Dr. Nieuwenhuis, "the Kayans fear 



the presence of strangers, because these 
latter might frighten and annoy the 
spirits which are invoked." On the 
periods of seclusion and quiet observed 
in connexion with agriculture by the 
Kayans of Sarawak, see W. H. Fur- 
ness. Home-life of Bo7-neo Head-hunters 
(Philadelphia, 1902), pp. 160 sqq. 



Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 95 

example, at this time the men often play at spinning 
tops. The tops are smooth, flat pieces of wood weighing 
several pounds. Each man tries to spin his own top so that 
it knocks down those of his neighbours and continues itself 
to revolve triumphantly. New tops are commonly carved 
for the festival. The older men sometimes use heavy tops 
of iron-wood. Again, every evening the young men assemble 
in the open space before the chief's house and engage in 
contests of strength and agility, while the women watch 
them from the long gallery or verandah of the house. 
Another popular pastime during the festival of sowing is a Masquer- 
masquerade. It takes place on the evening of the tenth day, sowjno- 
the day on which, for the second time, the people are for- festival. 
bidden to bathe. The scene of the performance is again 
the open space in front of the chief's house. As the day 
draws towards evening, the villagers begin to assemble in the 
gallery or verandah of the house in order to secure good 
places for viewing the masquerade. All the maskers at 
these ceremonies represent evil spirits. The men wear 
ugly wooden masks on their faces, and their bodies are 
swathed in masses of slit banana leaves so as to imitate 
the hideous faces and hairy bodies of the demons. The 
young women wear on their heads cylindrical baskets, which 
conceal their real features, while they exhibit to the spectators 
grotesque human faces formed by stitches on pieces of white 
cotton, which are fastened to the baskets. On the occasion 
when Dr. Nieuwenhuis witnessed the ceremony, the first to 
appear on the scene were some men wearing wooden masks 
and helmets and so thickly wrapt in banana leaves that they 
looked like moving masses of green foliage. They danced 
silently, keeping time to the beat of the gongs. They were 
followed by other figures, some of whom executed war- 
dances ; but the weight of their leafy envelope was such 
that they soon grew tired, and though they leaped high, 
they uttered none of the wild war-whoops which usually 
accompany these martial exercises. When darkness fell, 
the dances ceased and were replaced by a little drama 
representing a boar brought to bay by a pack of hounds. 
The part of the boar was played by an actor wearing a 
wooden boar's head mask, who ran about on all fours and 



96 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



Rites at 
hoeing. 



The Kayan 
New Year 
festival. 



Offerings 
and ad- 
dresses to 
the spirits. 



grunted in a life-like manner, while the hounds, acted by 
young men, snarled, yelped, and made dashes at him The 
play was watched with lively interest and peals of laughter 
by the spectators. Later in the evening eight disguised 
girls danced, one behind the other, with slow steps and 
waving arms, to the glimmering light of torches and the 
strains of a sort of Jew's harp.^ 

The rites which accompany the sowing of the fields are 
no sooner over than those which usher in the hoeing begin. 
Like the sowing ceremonies, they are inaugurated by a 
priestess, who hoes the sacred field round about a sacrificial 
stage and then calls upon other people to complete the 
work. After that the holy field is again sprinkled with a 
decoction of herbs.^ 

But the crowning point of the Kayan year is the New Year 
festival. The harvest has then been fully housed : abundance 
reigns in every family, and for eight days the people, dressed 
out in all their finery, give themselves up to mirth and jollity. 
The festival was witnessed by the Dutch explorer Dr. 
Nieuwenhuis. To lure the good spirits from the spirit land 
baskets filled with precious objects were set out before the 
windows, and the priestesses made long speeches, in which 
they invited these beneficent beings to come to the chief's 
house and to stay there during the whole of the ceremonies. 
Two days afterwards one of the priestesses harangued the 
spirits for three-quarters of an hour, telling them who the 
Kayans were, from whom the chief's family was descended, 
what the tribe was doing, and what were its wishes, not for- 
getting to implore the vengeance of the spirits on the Batang- 
Lupars, the hereditary foes of the Kayans. The harangue was 
couched in rhyming verse and delivered in sing-song tones. 
Five days later eight priestesses ascended a sacrificial stage, 
on which food was daily set forth for the spirits. There 
they joined hands and crooned another long address to the 
spirits, marking the time with their hands. Then a basket 
containing offerings of food was handed up to them, and one 
of the priestesses opened it and invited the spirits to enter the 
basket. When they were supposed to have done so, the lid 



^ A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. 
167-169. 



- A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. i. 
169. 



HI GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 97 

was shut down on them, and the basket with the spirits in 
it was conveyed into the chief's house. As the priestesses 
in the performance of the sacred ceremonies might not touch 
the ground, planks were cut from a fruit-tree and laid on the 
ground for them to step on. But the great feature of the sacrifice 
New Year festival is the sacrifice of pigs, of which the °fp'gs. 
spiritual essence is appropriately offered to the spirits, while 
their material substance is consumed by the worshippers. 
In carrying out this highly satisfactory arrangement, while 
the live pigs lay tethered in a row on the ground, the 
priestesses danced solemnly round a sacrificial stage, each of 
them arrayed in a war-mantle of panther-skin and wearing a 
war-cap on her head, and on either side two priests armed 
with swords executed war dances for the purpose of scaring 
away evil spirits. By their gesticulations the priestesses 
indicated to the powers above that the pigs were intended 
for their benefit. One of them, a fat but dignified lady, 
dancing composedly, seemed by her courteous gestures to 
invite the souls of the pigs to ascend up to heaven ; but 
others, not content with this too ideal offering, rushed at the 
pigs, seized the smallest of them by the hind legs, and 
exerting all their strength danced with the squealing porker 
to and from the sacrificial stage. In the evening, before 
darkness fell, the animals were slaughtered and their livers 
examined for omens : if the under side of the liver was 
pale, the omen was good ; but if it was dark, the omen 
was evil. On the last day of the festival one of the chief 
priestesses, in martial array, danced round the sacrificial 
stage, making passes with her old sword as if she would 
heave the whole structure heavenward ; while others stabbed 
with spears at the foul fiends that might be hovering in 
the air, intent on disturbing the sacred ministers at their 
holy work.^ 

" Thus," says Dr. Nieuwenhuis, reviewing the agricultural Dr. Nieu- 
rites which he witnessed among the Kayans on the Mendalam y"'^"'^ ^"^ 

° ^ the games 

river, " every fresh operation on the rice-field was ushered in by played by 
religious and culinary ceremonies, during which the com- [u'coiT-^^"^ 
munity had always to observe taboos for several nights and to nexionwith 
play certain definite games. As we saw, spinning-top games ^^"^" 

^ A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer durch Borneo, i. 171-1S2. 
PT. V. VOL. I H 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



Serious 
religious 
or magical 
signifi- 
cance of 
the games. 



and masquerades were played during the sowing festival : 
at the first bringing in of the rice the people pelted each other 
with clay pellets discharged from small pea-shooters, but in 
former times sham fights took place with wooden swords ; 
while during the New Year festival the men contend with 
each other in wrestling, high leaps, long leaps, and running. 
The women also fight each other with great glee, using 
bamboo vessels full of water for their principal weapons." ^ 

What is the meaning of the sports and pastimes which 
custom prescribes to the Kayans on these occasions ? Are 
they mere diversions meant to while away the tedium of the 
holidays ? or have they a serious, perhaps a religious or 
magical significance ? To this question it will be well to let 
Dr. Nieuwenhuis give his answer. " The Kayans on the 
Mendalam river," he says, " enjoy tolerably regular harvests, 
and their agricultural festivals accordingly take place every 
year ; whereas the Kayans on the Mahakam river, on 
account of the frequent failure of the harvests, can celebrate 
a New Year's festival only once in every two or three years. 
Yet although these festivities are celebrated more regularly 
on the Mendalam river, they are followed on the Mahakam 
river with livelier interest, and the meaning of all ceremonies 
and games can also be traced much better there. On the 
Mendalam river I came to the false conclusion that the 
popular games which take place at the festivals are under- 
taken quite arbitrarily at the seasons of sowing and harvest ; 
but on the Mahakam river, on the contrary, I observed that 
even the masquerade at the sowing festival is invested with 
as deep a significance as any of the ceremonies performed by 
the priestesses." ^ 

" The influence of religious worship, which dominates the 
whole life of the Dyak tribes, manifests itself also in their 
games. This holds good chiefly of pastimes in which all 
adults take part together, mostly on definite occasions ; it is 
less applicable to more individual pastimes which are not 
restricted to any special season. Pastimes of the former 
sort are very rarely indulged in at ordinary times, and 
properly speaking they attain their full significance only on 



1 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. i. 
169 sq. 



2 A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. cit. i. 
163 sq. 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



99 



the occasion of the agricultural festivals which bear a strictly 
religious stamp. Even then the recreations are not left to 
choice, but definite games belong to definite festivals ; thus 
at the sowing festivals other amusements are in vogue than 
at the little harvest festival or the great harvest festival at 
the beginning of the reaping, and at the New Year festival. 
... Is this connexion between festivals and games merely 
an accidental one, or is it based on a real affinity? The 
latter seems to me the more probable view, for in the case 
of one of the most important games played by men I was 
able to prove directly a religious significance ; and although 
I failed to do so in the case of the others, I conjecture, 
nevertheless, that a religious idea lies at the bottom of all 
other games which are connected with definite festivals." ^ 

If the reader should entertain any doubt on the subject. The Kai, 
and should suspect that in arriving at this conclusion the cuitura'i 
Dutch traveller gave the reins to his fancy rather than people of 
followed the real opinion of the people, these doubts and ^ew 
suspicions will probably be dispelled by comparing the Guinea, 
similar games which another primitive agricultural people 
avowedly play for the purpose of ensuring good crops. 
The people in question are the Kai of German New Guinea, 
who inhabit the rugged, densely wooded mountains inland 
from Finsch Harbour. They subsist mainly on the produce 
of the taro and yams which they cultivate in their fields, 
though the more inland people also make much use of 
sweet potatoes. All their crops are root crops. No patch 
of ground is cultivated for more than a year at a time. As 
soon as it has yielded a crop, it is deserted for another and 
is quickly overgrown with rank weeds, bamboos, and bushes. 
In six or eight years, when the undergrowth has died out 
under the shadow of the taller trees which have shot up, the 
land may again be cleared and brought under cultivation. 
Thus the area of cultivation shifts from year to year ; and 
the villages are not much more permanent ; for in the damp 
tropical climate the wooden houses soon rot and fail into 

' A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer dtirch of the Mahakam river, where disguised 

Borneo, ii. 130 sq. The game as to men personate spirits and pretend to 

the religious significance of which Dr. draw home the souls of the rice from 

Nieuwenhuis has no doubt is the the far countries to which they may 

masquerade performed by the Kayans have wandered. See below, pp i86j^. 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



buper- 
stitious 
practices 
observed 
by the Kai 
for the 
good of 
the crops. 



ruins, and when this happens the site of the village is 
changed.^ To procure good crops of the taro and yams, on 
which they depend for their subsistence, the Kai resort to 
many superstitious practices. For example, in order to 
make the yams strike deep roots, they touch the shoots 
with the bone of a wild animal that has been killed in 
the recesses of a cave, imagining that just as the creature 
penetrated deep into the earth, so the shoots that have been 
touched with its bone will descend deep into the ground. 
And in order that the taro may bear large and heavy fruit, 
they place the shoots, before planting them, on a large and 
heavy block of stone, believing that the stone will communi- 
cate its valuable properties of size and weight to the future 
fruit. Moreover, great use is made of spells and incantations 
to promote the growth of the crops, and all persons who utter 
such magical formulas for this purpose have to abstain from 
eating certain foods until the plants have sprouted and give 
promise of a good crop. For example, they may not eat 
young bamboo shoots, which are a favourite article of diet 
with the people. The reason is that the young shoots are 
covered with fine prickles, which cause itching and irritation 
of the skin ; from which the Kai infer that if an enchanter 
of field fruits were to eat bamboo shoots, the contagion of 
their prickles would be conveyed through him to the fruits 
and would manifest itself in a pungent disagreeable flavour. 
For a similar reason no charmer of the crops who knows 
his business would dream of eating crabs, because he is well 
aware that if he were to do so the leaves and stalks of the 
plants would be dashed in pieces by a pelting rain, just like 
the long thin brittle legs of a dead crab. Again, were such 
an enchanter to eat any of the edible kinds of locusts, it 
seems obvious to the Kai that locusts would devour the 
crops over which the imprudent wizard had recited his 
spells. Above all, people who are concerned in planting 
fields must on no account eat pork ; because pigs, whether 
wild or tame, are the most deadly enemies of the crops, 
which they grub up and destroy ; from which it follows, as 
surely as the night does the day, that if you eat pork while 



1 Ch. Keysser, "Aus dem Lebender 
Kaileute," in R. Neuhauss, Deutsch 



Neti-Guinea, iii. (Berlin, 191 1) pp. 3, 
9 sq., 12 sq. 



in GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE loi 

you are at work on the farm, your fields will be devastated 
by inroads of pigs.^ 

However, these precautions are not the only measures Games 
which the Kai people adopt for the benefit of the yams and [jJe^K^-^^ 
the taro. " In the opinion of the natives various games people 
are important for a proper growth of the field -fruits ; the'^g°owth 
hence these games may only be played in the time after of the yams 
the work on the fields has been done. Thus to swing 
on a long Spanish reed fastened to a branch of a tree is 
thought to have a good effect on the newly planted yams. 
Therefore swinging is practised by old and young, by men 
and women. No one who has an interest in the growth of 
his crop in the field leaves the swing idle. As they swing 
to and fro they sing swing- songs. These songs often 
contain only the names of the kinds of yams that have been 
planted, together with the joyous harvest-cry repeated with 
variations, ' I have found a fine fruit ! ' In leaping from 
the swing, they cry ^ Kakulili T By calling out the name 
of the yams they think to draw their shoots upwards out of 
the ground. A small bow with a string, on which a wooden 
flag adorned with a feather is made to slide down (the Kai 
call the instrument tawataivd), may only be used when the 
yams are beginning to wind up about their props. The 
tender shoots are then touched with the bow, while a song 
is sung which is afterwards often repeated in the village. It 
runs thus : ^ JSIauia gelo,geIowaineja,gelowaineja ; kiki tambai^ 
kiki tainbai! The meaning of the words is unknown. The 
intention is to cause a strong upward growth of the plants. 
In order that the foliage of the yams may sprout luxuriantly 
and grow green and spread, the Kai people play cat's cradle. 
Each of the intricate figures has a definite meaning and a 
name to match : for example ' the flock of pigeons ' {Hu/ita), 
'the Star,' 'the Flying Fox,' 'the Sago -palm Fan,' 'the 
Araucaria,' ' the Lizard and the Dog,' ' the Pig,' ' the Sentinel- 
box in the Fields,' ' the Rat's Nest,' ' the Wasp's Nest in 
the Bamboo -thicket,' 'the Kangaroo,' 'the Spider's Web,' 
' the Little Children,' ' the Canoe,' ' Rain and Sunshine,' 
'the Pig's Pitfall,' 'the Fish -spawn,' 'the Two Cousins, 
Kewa and Imbiawa. carrying their dead Mother to the 

^ Ch. Keysser, <?/. cit. pp. 123-125. 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



Tales and 
legends 
told by the 
Kai to 
cause the 
fruits of 
the earth 
to thrive. 



Thus 
among 
these New 
Guinea 
people 
games are 
played and 



Grave,' etc. By spinning large native acorns or a sort 
of wild fig they think that they foster the growth of the 
newly-planted taro ; the plants will ' turn about and broaden.' 
The game must therefore only be played at the time when 
the taro is planted. The same holds good of spearing at 
the stalks of taro leaves with the ribs of sago leaves used as 
miniature spears. This is done when the taro leaves have 
unfolded themselves, but when the plants have not yet set 
any tubers. A single leaf is cut from a number of stems, and 
these leaves are brought into the village. The game is played 
by two partners, who sit down opposite to each other at a dis- 
tance of three or four paces. A number of taro stalks lie beside 
each. He who has speared all his adversary's stalks first is 
victor ; then they change stalks and the game begins again. 
By piercing the leaves they think that they incite the plants 
to set tubers. Almost more remarkable than the limita- 
tion of these games to the time when work on the fields 
is going forward is the custom of the Kai people which 
only permits the tales of the olden time or popular 
legends to be told at the time when the newly planted 
fruits are budding and sprouting." ^ At the end of every 
such tale the Kai story-teller mentions the names of 
the various kinds of yams and adds, " Shoots (for the new 
planting) and fruits (to eat) in abundance ! " " From their 
concluding words we see that the Kai legends are only 
told for a quite definite purpose, namely, to promote the 
welfare of the yams planted in the field. By reviving the 
memory of the ancient beings, to whom the origin of 
the field-fruits is referred, they imagine that they influence 
the growth of the fruits for good. When the planting is 
over, and especially when the young plants begin to sprout, 
the telling of legends comes to an end. In the villages it is 
always only a few old men who as good story-tellers can 
hold the attention of their hearers." ^ 

Thus with these New Guinea people the playing of 
certain games and the recital of certain legends are alike 
magical in their intention ; they are charms practised to 
ensure good crops. Both sets of charms appear to be based 
on the principles of sympathetic magic. In playing the 

^ Ch. Keysser, op. cit. iii. 125 jjt. 2 q\^ Keysser, op. cit. iii. 161. 



Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 103 

games the players perform acts which are supposed to mimic stories told 
or at all events to stimulate the corresponding processes in j^ ensure^ 
the plants : by swinging high in the air they make the plants good crops. 
grow high ; by playing cat's cradle they cause the leaves of 
the yams to spread and the stalks to intertwine, even as 
the players spread their hands and twine the string about 
their fingers ; by spinning fruits they make the taro plants 
to turn and broaden ; and by spearing the taro leaves 
they induce the plants to set tubers.^ In telling the 
legends the story-tellers mention the names of the power- 
ful beings who first created the fruits of the earth, and the 
mere mention of their names avails, on the principle of 
the magical equivalence of names and persons or things, 
to reproduce the effect.^ The recitation of tales as a charm 
to promote the growth of the crops is not peculiar to the Kai. 
It is practised also by the Bakaua, another tribe of German 
New Guinea, who inhabit the coast of Huon Gulf, not far 
from the Kai. These people tell stories in the evening at the 
time when the yams and taro are ripe, and the stories always 
end with a prayer to the ancestral spirits, invoked under 
various more or less figurative designations, such as " a man " 
or " a cricket," that they would be pleased to cause countless 
shoots to sprout, the great tubers to swell, the sugar-cane to 

^ On the principles of homoeopathic Koch-Griinberg, Zwei Jahre unter den 

or imitative magic, see The Magic Art Indiaticrn (Berlin, 1909-1910), i. 120, 

and the Evohitioti of Kings, i. 52 sqq. 123, 252, 253, ii. 127, 131. Finding 

The Esquimaux play cat's cradle as a the game played as a magical rite to stay 

charm to catch the sun in the meshes the sun or promote the growth of the 

of the string and so prevent him from crops among peoples so distant from 

sinking below the horizon in winter. each other as the Esquimaux and the 

See The Magic Art and the Evohition natives of New Guinea, we may reason- 

of Kings, i. 316 sq. Cat's cradle is ably surmise that it has been put to 

played as a game by savages in many similar uses by many other peoples, 

parts of the world, including the Torres though civilised observers have com- 

Straits Islands, the Andaman Islands, monly seen in it nothing more than a 

Africa, and America. See A. C. Had- pastime. Probably many games have 

don, The Study of Man (London and thus originated in magical rites. 

New York, 189S), pp. 224-232 ; Miss When their old serious meaning was 

Kathleen Haddon, Cafs Cradles from forgotten, they continued to be practised 

^a«y Zaw^j (London, 191 1). For ex- simply for the amusement they afforded 

ample, the Indians of North-western the players. Another such game seems 

Brazil play many games of cat's cradle, to be the "Tug of War." See The 

each of which has its special name, such Golden Bottgh,^ iii. 95. 
as the Bow, the Moon, the Pleiades, the 

Armadillo, the Spider, the Caterpillar, ^ gee Taboo and the Perils of the 

and the Guts of the Tapir. See Th. Sotil, pp. 318 sqg. 



I04 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



The Yabim 
of German 
New 
Guinea 
also tell 
tales on 
purpose 
to obtain 
abundant 
crops. 



Specimens 
of Yabim 
tales told 
as charms 
to procure 
a good 
harvest. 



thrive, and the bananas to hang in long clusters. " From this 
we see," says the missionary who reports the custom, " that 
the object of telling the stories is to prove to the ancestors, 
whose spirits are believed to be present at the recitation of 
the tales which they either invented or inherited, that people 
always remember them ; for which reason they ought to be 
favourable to their descendants, and above all to bestow their 
blessings on the shoots which are ready to be planted or on 
the plants already in the ground." As the story-teller utters 
the prayer, he looks towards the house in which the young 
shoots ready for planting or the ripe fruits are deposited.^ 

Similarly, the Yabim, a neighbouring tribe of German 
New Guinea, at the entrance to Huon Gulf, tell tales for 
the purpose of obtaining a plentiful harvest of yams, taro, 
sugar-cane, and bananas.^ They subsist chiefly by the 
fruits of the earth which they cultivate, and among which 
taro, yams, and sugar-cane supply them with their staple 
food.^ In their agricultural labours they believe themselves 
to be largely dependent on the spirits of their dead, the 
balum, as they call them. Before they plant the first taro in 
a newly cleared field they invoke the souls of the dead to 
make the plants grow and prosper ; and to propitiate these 
powerful spirits they bring valuable objects, such as boar's 
tusks and dog's teeth, into the field, in order that the ghosts 
may deck themselves with the souls of these ornaments, 
while at the same time they minister to the grosser appetites 
of the disembodied spirits by offering them a savoury mess 
of taro porridge. Later in the season they whirl bull- 
roarers in the fields and call out the names of the dead, 
believing that this makes the crops to thrive.* 

But besides the prayers which they address to the spirits of 
the dead for the sake of procuring an abundant harvest, the 
Yabim utter spells for the same purpose, and these spells some- 
times take the form, not of a command, but of a narrative. 
Here, for instance, is one of their spells : " Once upon a time 
a man laboured in his field and complained that he had no 

1 Stefan Lehner, " Bukaua," in R. ^ H. Zahn, "Die Jabim," in R. 
Neuhauss, Detitsch Neu-Guitiea, ill. Neuhauss, Deutsch Neu- Guinea, iii. 
(Berlin, 191 1) pp. 478 sq. (Berlin, 1911) p. 290. 

2 See Taboo and the Perils of the 

Soul, p. 386. 4 H. Zahn, op. cii. pp. 332 sq. 



Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 105 

taro shoots. Then came two doves flying from Poum. They 
had devoured much taro, and they perched on a tree in the 
field, and during the night they vomited all the taro up. 
Thus the man got so many taro shoots that he was even 
able to sell some of them to other people." Or, again, if 
the taro will not bud, the Yabim will have recourse to the 
following spell : " A muraena lay at ebb-tide on the shore. 
It seemed to be at its last gasp. Then the tide flowed 
on, and the muraena came to life again and plunged 
into the deep water." This spell is pronounced over 
twigs of a certain tree {kalelong), while the enchanter 
smites the ground with them. After that the taro is sure to 
bud.^ Apparently the mere recitation of such simple tales is 
thought to produce the same effect as a direct appeal, whether 
in the shape of a prayer or a command, addressed to the 
spirits. Such incantations may be called narrative spells to Such tales 
distinguish them from the more familiar imperative spells, ^^^^j^ 
in which the enchanter expresses his wishes in the form narrative 
of direct commands. Much use seems to be made of such ^^^ ^' 
narrative spells among the natives of this part of German 
New Guinea. For example, among the Bukaua, who attri- 
bute practically boundless powers to sorcerers in every 
department of life and nature, the spells by which these 
wizards attempt to work their will assume one of two 
forms : either they are requests made to the ancestors, or 
they are short narratives, addressed to nobody in particular, 
which the sorcerer mutters while he is performing his 
magical rites.^ It is true, that here the distinction is drawn 
between narratives and requests rather than between 
narratives and commands ; but the difference of a re- 
quest from a command, though great in theory, may be 
very slight in practice ; so that prayer and spell, in the 
ordinary sense of the words, may melt into each other 
almost imperceptibly. Even the priest or the enchanter who 
utters the one may be hardly conscious of the hairbreadth 
that divides it from the other. In regard to narrative spells, 
it seems probable that they have been used much more exten- 
sively among mankind than the evidence at our disposal per- 

* H. Zahn, op. cit. p. 333. Neuhauss, Deutsch Neu-Guinea, iii. 

2 Stefan l.ehner, "Bukaua," in R. (Berlin, 191 1) p. 448. 



ro6 GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

mits us positively to affirm ; in particular we may conjecture 
that many ancient narratives, which we have been accustomed 
to treat as mere myths, used to be regularly recited in 
magical rites as spells for the purpose of actually producing 
events like those which they describe. 
Use of the The use of the bull-roarer to quicken the fruits of the 

bull-roarer g^j-^-j^ jg ^q^ peculiar to the Yabim. On the other side of 

to quicken ^ 

the fruits of New Guinea the instrument is employed for the same 
the earth, puj-pogg by ^he natives of Kiwai, an island at the mouth 
of the Fly River. They think that by whirling bull-roarers 
they produce good crops of yams, sweet potatoes, and 
bananas ; and in accordance with this belief they call 
the implement " the mother of yams." ^ Similarly in 
Mabuiag, an island in Torres Straits, the bull-roarer is looked 
upon as an instrument that can be used to promote the 
growth of garden produce, such as yams and sweet potatoes ; 
certain spirits were supposed to march round the gardens at 
night swinging bull-roarers for this purpose.^ Indeed a 
fertilising or prolific virtue appears to be attributed to the 
instrument by savages who are totally ignorant of agricul- 
ture. Thus among the Dieri of central Australia, when a 
young man had undergone the painful initiatory ceremony 
of having a number of gashes cut in his back, he used to be 
given a bull-roarer, whereupon it was believed that he 
became inspired by the spirits of the men of old, and 
that by whirling it, when he went in search of game before 
his wounds were healed, he had power to cause a good 
harvest of lizards, snakes, and other reptiles. On the other 
hand, the Dieri thought that if a woman were to see a bull- 
roarer that had been used at the initiatory ceremonies and 
to learn its secret, the tribe would ever afterwards be 
destitute of snakes, lizards, and other such food.^ It may 

1 A. C. Haddon, in Reports of the 3 a. W. Howitt, " The Dieri 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition and other kindred Tribes of Central 
to Torres Straits, v. (Cambridge, Australia," Journal of the Anthro- 
1904) pp. 218, 219. Compare id., pological Institute, xx. (1891) p. 
Head-hunters, Black, White, and 83; id.. Native Tribes of South- 
Brown (London, 1901) p. 104. East Australia (London, 1904), p. 

2 A. C. Haddon, in Reports of the 660. The first, I believe, to point 
Cambridge Anthropological Expedition out the fertilising power ascribed to 
to Torres Straits, v. (Cambridge, the buU-roaier by some savages was 
1904) pp. 346 sq. Dr. A. C. Haddon. See his essay. 



Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 107 

very well be that a similar power to fertilise or multiply 
edible plants and animals has been ascribed to the bull- 
roarer by many other peoples who employ the implement in 
their mysteries. 

Further, it is to be observed that just as the Kai of Swinging 
New Guinea swing to and fro on reeds suspended from the ^j^^^f"' 
branches of trees in order to promote the growth of the charm, 
crops, in like manner Lettish peasants in Russia devote 
their leisure to swinging in spring and early summer for 
the express purpose of making the flax grow as high as 
they swing in the air.^ And we may suspect that wherever 
swinging is practised as a ceremony at certain times of the 
year, particularly in spring and at harvest, the pastime is 
not so much a mere popular recreation as a magical rite 
designed to promote the growth of the crops.^ 

With these examples before us we need not hesitate to 
believe that Dr. Nieuwenhuis is right when he attributes a 
deep religious or magical significance to the games which 
the Kayans or Bahaus of central Borneo play at their 
various agricultural festivals. 

It remains to point out how far the religious or magical Analogy of 
practices of these primitive agricultural peoples of Borneo o'j^Bo^ngo^ 
and New Guinea appear to illustrate by analogy the original to the 
nature of the rites of Eleusis. So far as we can recompose, EkusTstn 
from the broken fragments of tradition, a picture of the the early 
religious and political condition of the Eleusinian people 
in the olden time, it appears to tally fairly well with the 
picture which Dr. Nieuwenhuis has drawn for us of the 
Kayans or Bahaus at the present day in the forests of 
central Borneo. Here as there we see a petty agricultural 
community ruled by hereditary chiefs who, while they 
unite religious to civil authority, being bound to preside 
over the numerous ceremonies performed for the good of 

"The Bull-roarer," in The Study of asian Association for the Advancement 

Man (London and New York, 1898), of Science for the year igoo {VL€^\)0\!,xxit., 

pp. 277-327. In this work Dr. Had- 1901), pp. 313-322. 
don recognises the general principle of ^ ^ ^ .^ deutsch-russischen 

the possible derivation of many games r\ . ^ /t-.j jt- 

, '^ ■ , . A..i-1-ii Ostseeprovmzen (Dresden and Leipsic, 

from magical rites. As to the bull- o f ■■ . 

,.^ 1841 , 11- 25. 
roarer compare my paper " On some ^ " -^ 

Ceremonies of the Central Australian * For the evidence see The Dying 

Tribes," in the Report of the Austral- God, pp. 277-285. 



io8 GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

the crops,^ nevertheless lead simple patriarchal lives and 
are so little raised in outward dignity above their fellows 
that their daughters do not deem it beneath them to fetch 
water for the household from the village well.^ Here as 
there we see a people whose whole religion is dominated 
and coloured by the main occupation of their lives ; who 
believe that the growth of the crops, on which they depend 
for their subsistence, is at the mercy of two powerful spirits, 
a divine husband and his wife, dwelling in a subterranean 
world ; and who accordingly offer sacrifices and perform 
ceremonies in order to ensure the favour of these mighty 
beings and so to obtain abundant harvests. If we knew 
more about the Rarian plain at Eleusis,^ we might dis- 
cover that it was the scene of many religious ceremonies 
like those which are performed on the little consecrated 
rice -fields (the luina lali) of the Kayans, where the 
various operations of the agricultural year are performed 
in miniature by members of the chiefs family before the 
corresponding operations may be performed on a larger 
The Sacred scale by common folk on their fields. Certainly we know 
at^Ekusif ^^^^ ^^^ Rarian plain witnessed one such ceremony in the 
year. It was a solemn ceremony of ploughing, one of the 
three Sacred Ploughings which took place annually in 
various parts of Attica.* Probably the rite formed part of 
the Proerosia or Festival before Ploughing, which was intended 
to ensure a plentiful crop.^ Further, it appears that the 
priests who guided the sacred slow-paced oxen as they dragged 
the plough down the furrows of the Rarian Plain, were drawn 
from the old priestly family of Bouzygai or " Ox-yokers," 
whose eponymous ancestor is said to have been the first man 
to yoke oxen and to plough the fields. As they performed 
this time-honoured ceremony, the priests uttered many quaint 
curses against all churls who should refuse to lend fire or water 
to neighbours, or to shew the way to wanderers, or who should 

^ On the Kayan chiefs and their ings was performed at Sciruni, and 

religious duties, see A. W. Nieuwen- the third at the foot of the Acropolis 

huis, Quer durch Borneo, i. 58-60. at Athens ; for in this passage of 

2 See above, p. 36. Plutarch we must, with the latest 

^ See above, p. 74. editor, read hvo Tr6\Lv for the vwb 

* Plutarch, Praecepta Conjugalia, TriXiv of the manuscripts. 

42. Another of these Sacred Plough- * See above, pp. 50 si/^. 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



109 



leave a corpse unburied.^ If we had a complete list of the 
execrations fulminated by the holy ploughmen on these 
occasions, we might find that some of them were levelled at 
the impious wretches who failed to keep all the rules of the 
Sabbath, as we may call those periods of enforced rest and 
seclusion which the Kayans of Borneo and other primitive 
agricultural peoples observe for the good of the crops.^ 



1 Etyinologicum lifagnutn, s.v. 
"Bov^vyla, p. 206, lines 47 sqq. ; Im. 
Bekker, Anecdota Graeca (Berlin, 1814- 
1821), i. 221 ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. vii. 
199 ; Hesychius, s.v. Bov^vyrjs ■ Ka6l<T- 
raro di trap avrots Kai tovs iepovs 
oLpbrovs iirtreXuiv Bov^vyr]? ; Paroeniio- 
graphi Graeci, ed. E. L. Leutsch und 
F. G. Schneidewin (Gottingen, 1839- 
1851), i. 388, Boi'fy777S- i-rclTGiv iroWa 
apwfj.iv(j3v. '0 yap 'Qov^vyqi 'AOrjvrjaiv 6 
Tov lepbv dpoTOv fTriTeXu)i' &\\a re 
TToXXd dpdraL Kal tois /xrj KOivwvovffi Kara 
rbv ^iov iiSaTO-; •^ wvpos fj fj.7] vTro(paivov(nv 
oSbu Tr\avwij.&OLS ; Scholiast on Soph- 
ocles, Antigone, 255, X670S 5e 6tl 
Bov^vyqi 'AdrjvTja'L KaT-qpdcraTO rots 
wepLopQaiv dracpov ffCiixa. The Sacred 
Ploughing at the foot of the Acropolis 
was specially called bouzygios (Plutarch, 
Praecepta Conjugalia, 42). Compare 
J. Toepffer, Attische Genealogie (Ber- 
lin, 1889) pp. 136 sqq. 

2 Such Sabbaths are very commonly 
and very strictly observed in connexion 
with the crops by the agricultural hill 
tribes of Assam. The native name 
for such a Sabbath is genna. See T. 
C. Hodson, "The Getma amongst the 
Tribes of Assam," Journal of the 
Anthropological Institiite, xxxvi. (1906) 
pp. 94 sq. : " Communal tabus are 
observed by the whole village. . . . 
Those which are of regular occurrence 
are for the most part connected with 
the crops. Even where irrigated 
terraces are made, the rice plant is 
much affected by deficiencies of rain 
and excess of sun. Before the crop is 
sown, the village is tabu or genna. 
The gates are closed and the friend 
without has to stay outside, while the 
stranger that is within the gates re- 
mains till all is ended. The festival 
is marked among some tribes by an 
outburst of licentiousness, for, so long 



as the crops remain ungarnered, the 
slightest incontinence might ruin all. 
An omen of the prosperity of the crops 
is taken by a mock contest, the girls 
pulling against the men. In some 
villages the gennas last for ten days, 
but the tenth day is the crowning day 
of all. The men cook, and eat apart 
from the women during this time, and 
the food tabus are strictly enforced. 
From the conclusion of the initial crop 
genna to the commencement of the 
genna which ushers in the harvest - 
time, all trade, all fishing, all hunting, 
all cutting grass and felling trees is 
forbidden. Those tribes which speci- 
alise in cloth - weaving, salt - making 
or pottery-making are forbidden the 
exercise of these minor but valuable 
industries. Drums and bugles are 
silent all the while. . . . Between the 
initial crop genna and the harvest- 
home, some tribes interpose a genna 
day which depends on the appearance 
of the first blade of rice. AH cele- 
brate the commencement of the gather- 
ing of the crops by a genna, which 
lasts at least two days. It is mainly 
a repetition of the initial genna and, 
just as the first seed was sown by the 
gennabura, the religious head of the 
village, so he is obliged to cut the first 
ear of rice before any one else may 
begin." On such occasions among 
the Kabuis, in spile of the licence 
accorded to the people generally, the 
strictest chastity is required of the 
religious head of the village who in- 
itiates the sowing and the reaping, 
and his diet is extremely limited ; for 
example, he may not eat dogs or 
tomatoes. See T. C. Hodson, "The 
Native Tribes of Manipur," Journal 
of the Antlu-opological Institute, xxxi, 
(1901) pp. 306 sq. ; and for more 
details, id., The Naga Tribes of Mani- 



GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 



The con- 
nexion 
of the 
Eleusinian 
games with 
agricuhure, 
attested 
by the 
ancients, 
is con- 
firmed by 
modern 
savage 
analogies. 



Further, when we see that many primitive peoples 
practise what we call games but what they regard in all 
seriousness as solemn rites for the good of the crops, we 
may be the more inclined to accept the view of the ancients, 
who associated the Eleusinian games directly with the 
worship of Demeter and Persephone, the Corn Goddesses.^ 
One of the contests at the Eleusinian games was in leaping,^ 
and we know that even in modern Europe to this day 
leaping or dancing high is practised as a charm to make 
the crops grow tall.^ Again, the bull-roarer was swung 
so as to produce a humming sound at the Greek 
mysteries ; * and when we find the same simple instrument 
whirled by savages in New Guinea for the sake of ensuring 
good crops, we may reasonably conjecture that it was 
whirled with a like intention by the rude forefathers of the 
Greeks among the cornfields of Eleusis. If that were so — 
though the conjecture is hardly susceptible of demonstration 
— it would go some way to confirm the theory that the 



pur (London, 191 1), pp. 168 sqq. 
The resemblance of some of these 
customs to those of the Kayans of 
Borneo is obvious. We may con- 
jecture that the "tug of war" which 
takes place between the sexes on 
several of these Sabbaths was originally 
a magical ceremony to ensure good 
crops rather than merely a mode of 
divination to forecast the coming har- 
vest. Magic regularly dwindles into 
divination before it degenerates into a 
simple game. At one of these taboo 
periods the men set up an effigy of a 
man and throw pointed bamboos at 
it. He who hits the figure in the 
head will kill an enemy ; he who hits 
it in the belly will have plenty of food. 
See T. C. Hodson, in Journal of the 
Anthropological Institute, xxxvi. (1906) 
p. 95 ; id.. The Naga Tribes of Alaiii- 
pur, p. 171. Here also we probably 
have an old magical ceremony passing 
through a phase of divination before it 
reaches the last stage of decay. On 
Sabbaths observed in connexion with 
agriculture in Borneo and Assam, see 
further Hutton Webster, Rest Days, 
a Sociological Study, pp. 1 1 sqq. ( Uni- 
versity Studies, Lincoln, Nebraska, 



vol. xi. Nos. 1-2, January- April, 
191 1). 

1 See above, p. 71. 

2 See above, p. 71 note*. 

3 See The Magic Art and the 
Evolution of Kings, i. 13 7- 1 39. 

* See the old Greek scholiast on 
Clement of Alexandria, quoted by Chr. 
Aug. Lobeck, Aglaopha>nus (Konigs- 
berg, 1829), p. 700; Andrew Lang, 
Custom and Myth (London, 1884), p. 
39. It is true that the bull-roarer seems 
to have been associated with the rites 
of Dionysus rather than of Demeter ; 
perhaps the sound of it was thought to 
mimick the bellowing of the god in 
his character of a bull. But the wor- 
ship of Dionysus was from an early 
time associated with that of Demeter 
in the Eleusinian mysteries ; and the 
god himself, as we have seen, had 
agricultural affinities. See above, p. 
5. An annual festival of swinging 
(which, as we have seen, is still prac- 
tised both in New Guinea and Russia 
for the good of the crops) was held by 
the Athenians in antiquity and was 
believed to have originated in the 
worship of Dionysus. See The Dying 
God, pp. 281 sq. 



Ill GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE in 

Eleusinian mysteries were in their origin nothing more than 
simple rustic ceremonies designed to make the farmer's 
fields to wave with yellow corn. And in the practice of 
the Kayans, whose worship of the rice offers many analogies 
to the Eleusinian worship of the corn, may we not detect a 
hint of the origin of that rule of secrecy which always 
characterised the Eleusinian mysteries ? May it not have 
been that, just as the Kayans exclude strangers from their 
villages while they are engaged in the celebration of religious 
rites, lest the presence of these intruders should frighten or 
annoy the shy and touchy spirits who are invoked at these 
times, so the old Eleusinians may have debarred foreigners 
from participation in their most solemn ceremonies, lest the 
coy goddesses of the corn should take fright or offence at 
the sight of strange faces and so refuse to bestow on men 
their annual blessing ? The admission of foreigners to the 
privilege of initiation in the mysteries was probably a late 
innovation introduced at a time when the fame of their 
sanctity had spread far and wide, and when the old magical 
meaning of the ritual had long been obscured, if not 
forgotten. 

Lastly, it may be suggested that in the masked dances The sacred 
and dramatic performances, which form a conspicuous ^^?^^^ 
and popular feature of the Sowing Festival among the Eleusinian 
Kayans,^ we have the savage counterpart of that drama ^^f^^rej 
of divine death and resurrection which appears to have to the 
figured so prominently in the mysteries of Eleusis.^ dali^ce^s of 
If my interpretation of that solemn drama is correct, it agricui- 
represented in mythical guise the various stages in the growth savages. 
of the corn for the purpose of magically fostering the natural 
processes which it simulated. In like manner among the 
Kaua and Kobeua Indians of North-western Brazil, who subsist 
chiefly by the cultivation of manioc, dances or rather panto- 
mimes are performed by masked men, who represent spirits 
or demons of fertility, and by imitating the act of procreation 
are believed to stimulate the growth of plants as well as to 
quicken the wombs of women and to promote the multipli- 
cation of animals. Coarse and grotesque as these dramatic 
performances may seem to us, they convey no suggestion of 
1 See above, pp. 95 sq., and below, pp. 186 sq. 2 ggg above, p. 39. 



112 GAMES IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap, in 

indecency to the minds either of the actors or of the 
spectators, who regard them in all seriousness as rites des- 
tined to confer the blessing of fruitfulness on the inhabitants 
of the village, on their plantations, and on the whole realm 
of nature.^ However, we possess so little exact information 
as to the rites of Eleusis that all attempts to elucidate them 
by the ritual of savages must necessarily be conjectural. 
Yet the candid reader may be willing to grant that con- 
jectures supported by analogies like the foregoing do not 
exceed the limits of a reasonable hypothesis. 

^ Th. Koch-Griinberg, Zwei Jahre to the cultivation of manioc among 
unter den htdianern (Berlin, 1909- these Indians see id. ii. 202 sqq. 
1910), i. 137-140, ii. 193-196. As 



I 



CHAPTER IV 

woman's part in primitive agriculture 

If Demeter was indeed a personification of the corn, Theory 
it is natural to ask, why did the Greeks personify the pgrsVili^ 
corn as a goddess rather than a god ? why did they ascribe ficaiion of 
the origin of agriculture to a female rather than to a male feminine 
power ? They conceived the spirit of the vine as masculine ; was sug- 

crested by 

why did they conceive the spirit of the barley and wheat as the part 
feminine ? To this it has been answered that the personi- p'ayed by 

. . women in 

fication of the corn as feminme, or at all events the ascription primitive 
of the discovery of agriculture to a goddess, was suggested agriculture. 
by the prominent part which women take in primitive agri- 
culture.^ The theory illustrates a recent tendency of mytho- 
logists to explain many myths as reflections of primitive 
society rather than as personifications of nature. For that 
reason, apart from its intrinsic interest, the theory deserves 
to be briefly considered. 

Before the invention of the plough, which can hardly be Among 
worked without resort to the labour of men, it was and still ^^^ge 
is customary in many parts of the world to break up the tribes the 

., ,. ... -11 1 , r labour of 

soil for cultivation with hoes, and among not a few savage hoeing the 
peoples to this day the task of hoeing the ground and sow- ground and 

:, ,,, .1 -1 1 sowing the 

ing the seed devolves mainly or entirely upon the women, seed de- 
while the men take little or no part in cultivation beyond solves on 

*■ ' women. 

clearing the land by felling the forest trees and burning the 
fallen timber and brushwood which encumber the soil. 
Thus, for example, among the Zulus, " when a piece of land 
has been selected for cultivation, the task of clearing it 

' F. B. Jevons, httrodtiction to the p. 240 ; H. Hirt, Die Indogermanen 
History of Religion (London, 1896), (Strasburg, 1905- 1907), i. 251 sqq. 
PT. V. VOL. I 113 I 



114 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

Agricui- belongs to the men. If the ground be much encumbered, 
done by'^^ ^his becomes a laborious undertaking, for their axe is very 
women small, and when a large tree has to be encountered, they 
ZuiuslmcT can only lop the branches ; fire is employed when it is 
other tribes necdful to remove the trunk. The reader will therefore not 
Africa. be surpHscd that the people usually avoid bush-land, though 
they seem to be aware of its superior fertility. As a general 
rule the men take no further share in the labour of cultiva- 
tion ; and, as the site chosen is seldom much encumbered 
and frequently bears nothing but grass, their part of the 
work is very slight. The women are the real labourers ; 
for (except in some particular cases) the entire business of 
digging, planting, and weeding devolves on them ; and, if 
we regard the assagai and shield as symbolical of the man, 
the hoe may be looked upon as emblematic of the woman. 
. . . With this rude and heavy instrument the woman digs, 
plants, and weeds her garden. Digging and sowing are 
generally one operation, which is thus performed ; the seed 
is first scattered on the ground, when the soil is dug or 
picked up with the hoe, to the depth of three or four inches, 
the larger roots and tufts of grass being gathered out, but all 
the rest left in or on the ground." ^ A special term of 
contempt is applied to any Zulu man, who, deprived of the 
services of his wife and family, is compelled by hard 
necessity to handle the hoe himself"^ Similarly among the 
Baronga of Delagoa Bay, "when the rains begin to fall, some- 
times as early as September but generally later, they hasten 
to sow. With her hoe in her hands, the mistress of the field 
walks with little steps ; every time she lifts a clod of earth 
well broken up, and in the hole thus made she plants three 
or four grains of maize and covers them up. If she has not 
finished clearing all the patch of the bush which she con- 
templated, she proceeds to turn up again the fields she tilled 
last year. The crop will be less abundant than in virgin 
soil, but they plant three or four years successively in the 

^ Rev. J. Shooter, The Kafirs of the women plant, weed, and harvest" 

Naial and the Zulu Country (London, (Rev. L. Grout, Zulu-land, Philadel- 

1S57), pp. 17 sq. Speaking of the phia, N.D., p. 1 10). 

Zulus another writer observes : " In - A. Delegorgue, Voyage dans PA- 

gardening, the men clear the land, if frique Australe (Paris, 1847), ii. 

need be, and sometimes fence it in ; 225. 



IV WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 115 

same field before it is exhausted. As for enriching the soil 
with manure, they never think of it." ^ Among the Barots^, 
who cultivate millet, maize, and peas to a small extent and 
in a rudimentary fashion, women alone are occupied with the 
field-work, and their only implement is a spade or hoe.^ Of 
the Matabel^ we are told that " most of the hard work is 
performed by the women ; the whole of the cultivation is 
done by them. They plough with short spades of native 
manufacture ; they sow the fields, and they clear them of 
weeds." ^ Among the Awemba, to the west of Lake Tan- 
ganyika, the bulk of the work in the plantations falls on the 
women ; in particular the men refuse to hoe the ground. 
They have a saying, " Is not each male child born for 
the axe and each female child for the hoe ? " ^ 

The natives of the Tanganyika plateau " cultivate the Chastity 
banana, and have a curious custom connected with it. No y^quiredm 

' the sowers 

man is permitted to sow ; but when the hole is prepared a of seed. 
little girl is carried to the spot on a man's shoulders. She 
first throws into the hole a sherd of broken pottery, and then 
scatters the seed over it." ^ The reason of the latter practice 
has been explained by more recent observers of these 
natives. " Young children, it may here be noted, are often 
employed to administer drugs, remedies, even the Poison 
Ordeal, and to sow the first seeds. Such acts, the natives 
say, must be performed by chaste and innocent hands, lest 
a contaminated touch should destroy the potency of the 
medicine or of the seedlings planted. It used to be a very 
common sight upon the islands of Lake Bangweolo to watch 
how a Bisa woman would solve the problem of her own 
moral unfitness by carrying her baby-girl to the banana- 
plot, and inserting seedlings in the tiny hands for dropping 
into the holes already prepared." ^ Similarly among the 
people of the Lower Congo " women must remain chaste 
while planting pumpkin and calabash seeds, they are not 
allowed to touch any pig-meat, and they must wash their 

^ H. A. Junod, Les Ba-Ronga Great Plateau of Northern Rhodesia 

(Neuchatel, 1908), pp. 195 sq. (London, 1911), p. 302. 

2 L. Decle, Three Yeats in Savage ^ L. Decle, op. cit. p. 295. 
^r2Va (London, 1898), p. 85. ^ C. Gouldsbury and H. Sheane, T)^;? 

3 L. Decle, ^/. cit. p. 160. Great Plateau of Northern Nige?-ia 
* C. Gouldsbury and H. Sheane, Z'/^* (London, 191 1), p. 179. 



ii6 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap- 



Woman's 
part in 
agriculture 
among the 
Caffres of 
South 
Africa in 
general. 



hands before touching the seeds. If a woman does not 
observe all these rules, she must not plant the seeds, or the 
crop will be bad ; she may make the holes, and her baby 
girl, or another who has obeyed the restrictions, can drop in 
the seeds and cover them over."^ We can now perhaps 
understand why Attic matrons had to observe strict chastity 
when they celebrated the festival of the Thesmophoria,^ In 
Attica that festival was held in honour of Demeter in the 
month of Pyanepsion, corresponding to October,^ the season of 
the autumn sowing ; and the rites included certain ceremonies 
which bore directly on the quickening of the seed/ We may 
conjecture that the rule of chastity imposed on matrons at 
this festival was a relic of a time when they too, like many 
savage women down to the present time, discharged the 
important duty of sowing the seed and were bound for that 
reason to observe strict continence, lest any impurity on their 
part should defile the seed and prevent it from bearing fruit. 
Of the Caffres of South Africa in general we read that 
" agriculture is mainly the work of the women, for in olden 
days the men were occupied in hunting and fighting. The 
women do but scratch the land with hoes, sometimes using 
long-handled instruments, as in Zululand, and sometimes 
short-handled ones, as above the Zambesi. When the ground 
is thus prepared, the women scatter the seed, throwing it over 
the soil quite at random. They know the time to sow by the 
position of the constellations, chiefly by that of the Pleiades. 
They date their new year from the time they can see this 
constellation just before sunrise." ^ In Basutoland, where 



1 Rev. J. H. Weeks, " Notes on 
some Customs of the Lower Congo 
People," Folk-lore, xx. (1909) p. 31 1. 

2 In order to guard against any 
breach of the rule they strewed Agiiits 
casttis and other plants^ which were 
esteemed anaphrodisiacs, under their 
beds. See Dioscorides, De Materia 
Medica, i. 134 {135), vol. i. p. 130, 
ed. C. Sprengel (Leipsic, 1829-1830); 
Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxiv. 59 ; Aelian, 
De Natwa Aiiimalium, ix. 26 ; 
Hesychius, s.v. Kviwpov ; Scholiast on 
Theocritus, iv. 25 ; Scholiast on 
Nicander, Ther. 70 sq. 

^ Scholiast on Aristophanes, Thes- 



mophor. 80; V\\x\.2iXQk\, Detnosthene<:^'>,o; 
Aug. Mommsen, Feste der Stadt Athen 
ini Altertum (Leipsic, 1898), pp. 310 
sq. That Pyanepsion was the month 
of sowing is mentioned by Plutarch {his 
et Osiris, 69). See above, pp. 45 sq. 

■* See below, vol. ii. p. 17 sq. 

® Dudley Kidd, The Essential 
Kaffir (London, 1904), p. 323. Com- 
pare B. Ankermann, " L'Eihno^rnphie 
actuellft de I'Afrique meridionale," 
Anthropos, i. (1906) pp. 575 sq. As 
to the use of the Pleiades to determine 
the time of sowing, see note at the 
end of the volume, " The Pleiades in 
Primitive Calendars." 



IV WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 117 

the women also till the fields, though the lands of chiefs are 
dug and sowed by men, an attempt is made to determine 
the time of sowing by observation of the moon, but the 
people generally find themselves out in their reckoning, and 
after much dispute are forced to fall back upon the state of the 
weather and of vegetation as better evidence of the season of 
sowing. Intelligent chiefs rectify the calendar at the summer 
solstice, which they call the summer-house of the sun.^ 

Among the Nandi of British East Africa "the rough Agricui- 
work of clearing the bush for plantations is performed by ^^^^ ]^y' ' 
the men, after which nearly all work in connexion with them vvomen 
is done by the women. The men, however, assist in sowing Nandf and 
the seed, and in harvesting some of the crops. As a rule other tribes 
trees are not felled, but the bark is stripped off for about and 
four feet from the ground and the trees are then left to die. Western 

° Africa. 

The planting is mostly, if not entirely, done durmg the first 
half of the Kiptaino moon (February), which is the first 
month of the year, and when the Iwat-ktit moon rises 
(March) all seed should be in the ground. The chief 
medicine man is consulted before the planting operations 
begin, but the Nandi know by the arrival in the fields of the 
guinea-fowl, whose song is supposed to be, 0-kol, o-kol; mi-i 
tokoch (Plant, plant ; there is luck in it), that the planting 
season is at hand. When the first seed is sown, salt is 
mixed with it, and the sower sings mournfully : Ak o-siek-u 
o-cliok-cJii (And grow quickly), as he sows. After fresh 
ground has been cleared, eleusine grain is planted. This 
crop is generally repeated the second year, after which 
millet is sown, and finally sweet potatoes or some other 
product. Most fields are allowed to lie fallow every fourth 
or fifth year. The Nandi manure their plantations with turf 
ashes. . . . The eleusine crops are harvested by both men 
and women. All other crops are reaped by the women only, 
who are at times assisted by the children. The corn is 
pounded and winnowed by the women and girls." ^ Among 

1 Rev. E. Casalis, The Basutos people of British East Africa, both 
(London, 1861), pp. 143 (with plate), men and women work in the fields 
pp. 162-165. with large iron hoes. See Sir Harry 

2 A. C. Hollis, The Nandi (Oxford, Johnston, The Uganda Protectoraie 
1909), P-I9' However, amongthe Bantu (London, 1904), ii. 738. 
Kavirondo, an essentially agricultural 



ii8 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

the Suk and En-jemusi of British East Africa it is the 
women who cultivate the fields and milk the cows/ Among 
the Wadowe of German East Africa the men clear the forest 
and break up the hard ground, but the women sow and 
reap the crops.^ So among the Wanyamwezi, who are an 
essentially agricultural people, to the south of Lake Victoria 
Nyanza, the men cut down the bush and hoe the hard 
ground, but leave the rest of the labour of weeding, sowing, 
Agiicui- and reaping to the women.^ The Baganda of Central Africa 
o^women'' subsist chiefly on bananas, and among them " the garden 
among the and its Cultivation have always been the woman's depart- 
agan a. j^gj^|- Princcsses and peasant women alike looked upon 
cultivation as their special work ; the garden with its produce 
was essentially the wife's domain, and she would under no 
circumstances allow her husband to do any digging or 
sowing in it. No woman would remain with a man who 
did not give her a garden and a hoe to dig it with ; if these 
were denied her, she would seek an early opportunity to 
escape from her husband and return to her relations to 
complain of her treatment, and to obtain justice or a 
divorce. When a man married he sought a plot of land 
for his wife in order that she might settle to work and 
provide food for the household. ... In initial clearing of 
the land it was customary for the husband to take part ; 
he cut down the tall grass and shrubs, and so left the 
ground ready for his wife to begin her digging. The grass 
and the trees she heaped up and burned, reserving only so 
much as she needed for firewood. A hoe was the only 
implement used in cultivation ; the blade was heart-shaped 
with a prong at the base, by which it was fastened to the 
handle. The hoe-handle was never more than two feet long, 
so that a woman had to stoop when using it."* In Kiziba, 
a district immediately to the south of Uganda, the tilling of 
the soil is exclusively the work of the women. They turn 
up the soil with hoes, make holes in the ground with 
digging-sticks or their fingers, and drop a few seeds into 

» M.W. H. Beech, The Siik {OySoxdi, 3 jr, Stuhlmann, op. cit. p. 75. 

191 1), p. 33. 4 Rev. J. Roscoe, The Baganda 

2 F. Stuhlmann, Mit Emitt Pascha (London, 1911), pp. 426, 427; com- 

ins Herz von Afrika (Berlin, 1894), pare pp. 5, 38, 91 sq., 93, 94, 95, 

p. 36. 268. 



IV WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 119 

each hole/ Among the Niam-Niam of Central Africa " the 
men most studiously devote themselves to their hunting, 
and leave the culture of the soil to be carried on exclusively 
by the women " ; ^ and among the Monbuttoo of the same 
region in like manner, " whilst the women attend to the 
tillage of the soil and the gathering of the harvest, the men, 
unless they are absent either for war or hunting, spend the 
entire day in idleness." ^ As to the Bangala of the Upper Agricui- 
Congo we read that " large farms were made around the *"''^' ^^'^'^^ 

° ° of women 

towns. The men did the clearing of the bush, felling the on the 
trees, and cutting down the undergrowth ; the women °°^°' 
worked with them, heaping up the grass and brushwood 
ready for burning, and helping generally. As a rule the 
women did the hoeing, planting, and weeding, but the men 
did not so despise this w-ork as never to do it." In this 
tribe " the food belonged to the woman who cultivated the 
farm, and while she supplied her husband with the vege- 
table food, he had to supply the fish and meat and share 
them with his wife or wives."* Amongst the Tofoke, a tribe 
of the Congo State on the equator, all the field labour, 
except the clearing away of the forest, is performed by the 
women. They dig the soil with a hoe and plant maize and 
manioc. A field is used only once.^ So with the Ba-Mbala, 
a Bantu tribe between the rivers Inzia and Kwilu, the men 
clear the ground for cultivation, but all the rest of the work 
of tillage falls to the women, whose only tool is an iron 
hoe. Fresh ground is cleared for cultivation every year.^ 
The Mpongwe of the Gaboon, in West Africa, cultivate 
manioc (cassava), maize, yams, plantains, sweet potatoes, 
and ground nuts. When new clearings have to be made 
in the forest, the men cut down and burn the trees, and the 
women put in the crop. The only tool they use is a dibble, 
with which they turn up a sod, put in a seed, and cover it 

1 H. Rehse, Kiziba, Land unci Leute Royal Anthropological Institute, xxxix. 
(Stuttgart, 1910), p. 53. (1909) PP- "7. 128. 

2 G. Schweinfurth, The Heart of = E. Torday, "Der Tofoke, 'M//«^//- 
^/rjVflS (London, 1878), i. 281. ««^^« der Anthropologtschen Gesell- 

schaft tti Wie>t, xli. (191 1) p. 198. 

3 G. Schweinfurth, op. cit. ii. 40. 6 e. Torday and T. A. Joyce, 

* Rev. J. H. Weeks, " Anthropo- "Notes on the Ethnography of the 
logical Notes on the Bangala of the Ba-Mbala," Journal of the Anthropo- 
Upper Congo VAx^r," Journal of the logical Institute, xxxv. (1905) p. 405. 



Agricul- 
tural work 
done by 
women 
among the 
Indian 
tribes of 
South 
America. 



I20 WOMAN'S PART IM PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

over,^ Among the Ashira of the same region the cultiva- 
tion of the soil is in the hands of the vvomen.^ 

A similar division of labour between men and women 
prevails among many primitive agricultural tribes of Indians 
in South America. " In the interior of the villages," says an 
eminent authority on aboriginal South America, " the man 
often absents himself to hunt or to go into the heart of the 
forest in search of the honey of the wild bees, and he always 
goes alone. He fells the trees in the places where he 
wishes to make a field for cultivation, he fashions his 
weapons, he digs out his canoe, while the woman rears the 
children, makes the garments, busies herself with the 
interior, cultivates the field, gathers the fruits, collects the 
roots, and prepares the food. Such is, generally at least, 
the respective condition of the two sexes among almost 
all the Americans. The Peruvians alone had already, in 
their semi-civilised state, partially modified these customs ; 
for among them the man shared the toils of the other sex or 
took on himself the most laborious tasks." ^ Thus, to take 
examples, among the Caribs of the West Indies the men 
used to fell the trees and leave the fallen trunks to cumber 
the ground, burning off only the smaller boughs. Then the 
women came and planted manioc, potatoes, yams, and 
bananas wherever they found room among the tree-trunks. 
In digging the ground to receive the seed or the shoots 
they did not use hoes but simply pointed sticks. The men, 
we are told, would rather have died of hunger than undertake 
such agricultural labours.* Again, the staple vegetable food 
of the Indians of British Guiana is cassava bread, made 
from the roots of the manioc or cassava plant, which the 
Indians cultivate in clearings of the forest. The men fell 
the trees, cut down the undergrowth, and in dry weather set 
fire to the fallen lumber, thus creating open patches in the 
forest which are covered with white ashes. When the rains 



* P. B. du Chaillu, Explorations 
and Adventures in Eqiiato7-ial Africa 
(London, 1861), p. 22. 

2 P. B. du Chaillu, op. cit. p. 417. 

^ A. D'Orbigny, L Homme A?niri- 
cain (de l Amcriqtie Mt!ridionak) (Paris, 
1839), i. 198 sq. 



* Le Sieur de la Borde, "Relation 
de I'Origine, Mceurs, Coustiimes, 
Religion, Guerres et Voy.iges des 
Caraiiies Sauvages des Isles Antilles 
de I'Amerique," pp. 21-23, if* Recueil 
de divers Voyages fails en Afrique et 
en r Amerique (Paris, 16S4). 



I 



IV WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 121 

set in, the women repair to these clearings, heavily laden with 
baskets full of cassava sticks to be used as cuttings. These 
they insert at irregular intervals in the soil, and so the field is 
formed. While the cassava is growing, the women do just 
as much weeding as is necessary to prevent the cultivated 
plants from being choked by the rank growth of the tropical 
vegetation, and in doing so they plant bananas, pumpkin 
seeds, yams, sweet potatoes, sugar-cane, red and yellow 
peppers, and so forth, wherever there is room for them. At 
last in the ninth or tenth month, when the seeds appearing 
on the straggling branches of the cassava plants announce 
that the roots are ripe, the women cut down the plants and 
dig up the roots, not all at once, but as they are required. 
These roots they afterwards peel, scrape, and bake into 
cassava bread.^ 

In like manner the cassava or manioc plant is cultivated Cultivation 
generally among all the Indian tribes of tropical South by women 
America, wherever the plant will grow ; and the cultivation among the 
of it is altogether in the hands of the women, who insert the tHb«"of 
sticks in the ground after the fashion already described.^ tropical 
For example, among the tribes of the Uaupes River, in the America. 
upper valley of the Amazon, who are an agricultural people 
with settled abodes, " the men cut down the trees and 
brushwood, which, after they have lain some months to 
dry, are burnt ; and the mandiocca is then planted by the 
women, together with little patches of cane, sweet potatoes, 
and various fruits. The women also dig up the mandiocca, 
and prepare from it the bread which is their main sub- 
sistence. . . . The bread is made fresh every day, as when 
it gets cold and dry it is far less palatable. The women 
thus have plenty to do, for every other day at least they 
have to go to the field, often a mile or two distant, to fetch 
the root, and every day to grate, prepare, and bake the 
bread ; as it forms by far the greater part of their food, and 
they often pass days without eating anything else, especially 

1 E. F. im Thurn, A»iong the economic importance of the manioc or 
Indians of Guiana (London, 1883), cassava plant in the life of the South 
pp. 250 sqq., 260 sqq. American Indians, see further E. J. 

2 C. F. Phil. V. Martins, Zz<r^//;«o- Payne, History of the New World 
grnphie Amerikds, zutnal Brasiliens called America, i. (Oxford, 1892) pp. 
(Leipsic, 1867), pp. 486-4S9. On the 310 sqq., 312 sq. 



122 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 



Agricul- 
tural work 
done by 
women 
among 
savage 
tribes in 
India, New 
Guinea, 
and New 
Britain. 



when the men are engaged in clearing the forest." ^ Among 
the Tupinambas, a tribe of Brazihan Indians, the wives 
" had something more than their due share of labour, but 
they were not treated with brutality, and their condition was 
on the whole happy. They set and dug the mandioc ; they 
sowed and gathered the maize. An odd superstition pre- 
vailed, that if a sort of earth-almond, which the Portugueze 
call amendoens, was planted by the men, it would not grow." ^ 
Similar accounts appear to apply to the Brazilian Indians 
in general : the men occupy themselves with hunting, war, 
and the manufacture of their weapons, while the women 
plant and reap the crops, and search for fruits in the forest ; ^ 
above all they cultivate the manioc, scraping the soil clear of 
weeds with pointed sticks and inserting the shoots in the 
earth.* Similarly among the Indians of Peru, who cultivate 
maize in clearings of the forest, the cultivation of the fields 
is left to the women, while the men hunt with bows and 
arrows and blowguns in the woods, often remaining away 
from home for weeks or even months together.^ 

A similar distribution of labour between the sexes prevails 
among some savage tribes in other parts of the world. 
Thus among the Lhoosai of south-eastern India the men 
employ themselves chiefly in hunting or in making forays 
on their weaker neighbours, but they clear the ground and 
help to carry home the harvest. However, the main burden 
of the bodily labour by which life is supported falls on the 
women ; they fetch water, hew wood, cultivate the ground. 



^ A. R. Wallace, Narrative of 
Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro 
(London, 1889), pp. 336, 337 [The 
Mineti)a Library). Mr. Wallace's 
account of the agriculture of these 
tribes is entirely confirmed by the 
observations of a recent explorer in 
north western Brazil. See Th. Koch- 
Griinberg, Zicei Jahre unter den 
Indianern (Berlin, 1909- 19 10), ii. 
202-209; ^^-i " Frauenarbeit bei den 
Indianern Nordwest-Brasiliens," Mit- 
teilungen der Anthropologischen Gesell- 
schaft in IVien, xxxviii. (1908) pp. 
172-174. This writer tells us [Zwei 
Jahre unter den Indianern, ii. 203) 
that these Indians determine the time 



for planting by observing certain con- 
stellations, especially the Pleiades. 
The rainy season begins when the 
Pleiades have disappeared below the 
horizon. See Note at end of the 
volume. 

2 R. Southey, History of Brazil, 
vol. i. Second Edition (London, 1822), 
p. 253. 

' J. B. von Spix und C. F. Ph. 
von Martius, Reise in Brasilien 
(Munich, 1823-1831), i. 381. 

* K. von den Steinen, Unter 
den Nattirvblkern Zentral-Brasiliens 
(Berlin, 1894), p. 214. 

6 J, J. von Tschudi, Peru (St. 
Gallen, 1846), ii. 214. 



IV WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 123 

and help to reap the crops/ Among the Miris of Assam 
almost the whole of the field work is done by the women. 
They cultivate a patch of ground for two successive years, 
then suffer it to lie fallow for four or five. But they are 
deterred by superstitious fear from breaking new ground so 
long as the fallow suffices for their needs ; they dread to 
offend the spirits of the woods by needlessly felling the 
trees. They raise crops of rice, maize, millet, yams, and 
sweet potatoes. But they seldom possess any implement 
adapted solely for tillage ; they have never taken to the 
plough nor even to a hoe. They use their long straight 
swords to clear, cut, and dig with.^ Among the Korwas, a 
savage hill tribe of Bengal, the men hunt with bows and 
arrows, while the women till the fields, dig for wild roots, or 
cull wild vegetables. Their principal crop is pulse {Cajaniis 
Indicus)? Among the Papuans of Ayambori, near Doreh 
in Dutch New Guinea, it is the men who lay out the fields 
by felling and burning the trees and brushwood in the 
forest, and it is they who enclose the fields with fences, but 
it is the women who sow and reap them and carry home 
the produce in sacks on their backs. They cultivate rice, 
millet, and bananas.* So among the natives of Kaimani 
Bay in Dutch New Guinea the men occupy themselves only 
with fishing and hunting, while all the field work falls on 
the women.^ In the Gazelle Peninsula of New Britain, 
when the natives have decided to convert a piece of grass- 
land into a plantation, the men cut down the long grass, 
burn it, dig up the soil with sharp-pointed sticks, and enclose 
the land with a fence of saplings. Then the women plant 
the banana shoots, weed the ground, and in the intervals 
between the bananas insert slips of yams, sweet potatoes, 
sugar-cane, or ginger. When the produce is ripe, they carry 
it to the village. Thus the bulk of the labour of cultivation 
devolves on the women.® 

1 Captain T. H. Lewin, Wild Races * Nieuw Guinea, ethnographisch en 
of Sozith-Easlertt India (London, iS^o), natnurkiindig onderzocht en beschreven 
p. 255. (Amsterdam, 1862), p. 159. 

2 E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- ^ Op. cit. p. 119; H. von Rosen- 
logy of Bengal (Calcutta, 1872), \)^x^, Der Malayische Archipel (L,€\'^%\z, 
p. 33- 1878), p. 433. 

3 E. T. Dalton, op. cit. pp. 226, ^ P. A. Kleintitschen, Die Kiisten- 
227. bewohner der Gazellekalbinsel {\i\\\.x\\Y> 



124 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 



Division of 
agricul- 
tural work 
between 
men and 
women in 
the Indian 
Archi- 
pelago. 



Among 
savages 
who have 
not learned 
to till the 
ground the 
task of 
collecting 
the vege- 



Among some peoples of the Indian Archipelago, after 
the land has been cleared for cultivation by the men, the 
work of planting and sowing is divided between men and 
women, the men digging holes in the ground with pointed 
sticks, and the women following them, putting the seeds or 
shoots into the holes, and then huddling the earth over 
them ; for savages seldom sow broadcast, they laboriously 
dig holes and insert the seed in them. This division of 
agricultural labour between the sexes is adopted by various 
tribes of Celebes, Ceram, Borneo, Nias, and New Guinea.^ 
Sometimes the custom of entrusting the sowing of the seed 
to women appears to be influenced by superstitious as well as 
economic considerations. Thus among the Indians of the 
Orinoco, who with an infinitude of pains cleared the jungle 
for cultivation by cutting down the forest trees with their 
stone axes, burning the fallen lumber, and breaking up the 
ground with wooden instruments hardened in the fire, the 
task of sowing the maize and planting the roots was 
performed by the women alone ; and when the Spanish 
missionaries expostulated with the men for not helping their 
wives in this toilsome duty, they received for answer that as 
women knew how to conceive seed and bear children, so the 
seeds and roots planted by them bore fruit far more 
abundantly than if they had been planted by male hands.^ 

Even among savages who have not yet learned to 
cultivate any plants the task of collecting the edible seeds 
and digging up the edible roots of wild plants appears to 
devolve mainly on women, while the men contribute their 
share to the common food supply by hunting and fishing, 
for which their superior strength, agility, and courage especi- 

bei Miinster, preface dated Christmas, Seventeeji Years among the Sea Dyaks 



1906), pp. 60 sq.; G. Brown, D.D. 
Melanesians and Polynesians (London, 
19 10), pp. 324 sq. 

1 A. C. Kruijt, " Een en ander 
aangaande bet geestelijk en maat- 
schappelijk leven van den Poso-Alfoer," 
Mededeelingett van wege het Neder- 
landsche Zendelingoenootschap, xxxix. 
(1895) PP- 132. 134; J- Boot, "Korte 
schets der noordkust van Ceram," 
Tijdschrift van het Nederlandsch 
Aardrijkskuiidig Genootschap, Tweede 
Serie, x. (1893) p. 672 ; E. H. Gomes, 



of Borneo (London, 1911), p. 46 ; E. 
Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias{},\\\3.n, 
1890), pp. 590 sq.; K. Vetter, Komin 
her liber und hilf tins! Heft 2 
(Barmen, 1898), pp. 6sq.; Cb. Keysser, 
" Aus dem Leben der Kaileute," in 
R. Neuhauss, Deutsch Neu-Guinea, 
iii. (Berlin, 191 1) pp. 14, 85. 

2 J. Gumilla, Histoire Naiurelle, 
Civile et G^ographique de POrMoqiie 
(Avignon, 1758), ii. 166 sqq., 183 sqq. 
Compare The Alagic Art and the 
Evolution of Kings, i. 139 sqq. 



IV JVOMAAPS PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 125 

ally qualify them. For example, among the Indians of table food 
California, who were entirely isjnorant of agriculture, the '" '^^^ Z'^''"' 

' y & 25 > of Wild 

general division of labour between the sexes in the search seeds and 
for food was that the men killed the game and caught the Leneraii 
salmon, while the women dug the roots and brought in devolves on 
most of the vegetable food, though the men helped them to Examples 
gather acorns, nuts, and berries.^ Among the Indians of furnished 
San Juan Capistrano in California, while the men passed caiifornian 
their time in fowling, fishing, dancing, and lounging, " the ^nf^'ans. 
women were obliged to gather seeds in the fields, prepare 
them for cooking, and to perform all the meanest offices, as 
well as the most laborious. It was painful in the extreme, 
to behold them, with their infants hanging upon their 
shoulders, groping about in search of herbs or seeds, and 
exposed as they frequently were to the inclemency of the 
weather." " Yet these rude savages possessed a calendar 
containing directions as to the seasons for collecting the 
diiTerent seeds and produce of the earth. The calendar 
consisted of lunar months corrected by observation of the 
solstices, " for at the conclusion of the moon in December, 
that is, at the conjunction, they calculated the return of the 
sun from the tropic of Capricorn ; and another year com- 
menced, the Indian saying 'the sun has arrived at his home.' 
. . . They observed with greater attention and celebrated 
with more pomp, the sun's arrival at the tropic of Capricorn 
than they did his reaching the tropic of Cancer, for the 
reason, that, as they were situated ten degrees from the . 
latter, they were pleased at the sun's approach towards 
them ; for it returned to ripen their fruits and seeds, to give 
warmth to the atmosphere, and enliven again the fields with 
beauty and increase." However, the knowledge of the calendar 
was limited to ihe pupleni or general council of the tribe, who 
sent criers to make proclamation when the time had come 
to go forth and gather the seeds and other produce of the 
earth. In their calculations they were assisted by a pul or 

1 S. Powers, Tribes of California writer observes of these Indians that 
(Washington, 1S77), p. 23. "they neither cultivated the ground, 

2 Father Geronimo Boscana, "Chin- nor planted any kind of grain; but 
igchinich," in [A. Robinson's] Life in lived upon the wild seeds of the field, 
California (New York, 1846), p. 287. the fruits of the forest, and upon the 
Elsewhere the same well-informed abundance of game " (pp. cit. p. 285). 



126 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 



Among the 
aborigines 
of Aus- 
tralia the 
women 
provided 
the vege- 
table food, 
while the 
men 
hunted. 



astrologer, who observed the aspect of the moon/ When 
we consider that these rude CaHfornian savages, destitute 
alike of agriculture and of the other arts of civilised life, yet 
succeeded in forming for themselves a calendar based on 
observation both of the moon and of the sun, we need not 
hesitate to ascribe to the immeasurably more advanced 
Greeks at the dawn of history the knowledge of a some- 
what more elaborate calendar founded on a cycle of eight 
solar years.^ 

Among the equally rude aborigines of Australia, to 
whom agriculture in every form was totally unknown, the 
division of labour between the sexes in regard to the collec- 
tion of food appears to have been similar. While the men 
hunted game, the labour of gathering and preparing the 
vegetable food fell chiefly to the women. Thus with regard 
to the Encounter Bay tribe of South Australia we are told 
that while the men busied themselves, according to the 
season, either with fishing or with hunting emus, opossums, 
kangaroos, and so forth, the women and children searched 
for roots and plants.^ Again, among the natives of Western 
Australia " it is generally considered the province of women 
to dig roots, and for this purpose they carry a long, pointed 
stick, which is held in the right hand, and driven firmly 
into the ground, where it is shaken, so as to loosen the 
earth, which is scooped up and thrown out with the fingers 
of the left hand, and in this manner they dig with great 
rapidity. But the labour, in proportion to the amount 
obtained, is great. To get a yam about half an inch in 
circumference and a foot in length, they have to dig a hole 
above a foot square and two feet in depth ; a considerable 
portion of the time of the women and children is, therefore, 
passed in this employment. If the men are absent upon 
any expedition, the females are left in charge of one who is 



^ Father Geronimo Boscana, op. cit. 
pp. 302-305. As to the puple?!!, see 
id. p. 264. The writer says that criers 
informed the people " when to cultivate 
their fields" (p. 302). But taken 
along with his express statement that 
they "neither cultivated the ground, 
nor planted any kind of grain " (p. 285, 
see above, p. 125 note-), this expres- 



sion " to cultivate their fields " must 
be understood loosely to denote merely 
the gathering of the wild seeds and 
fruits. 

- See above, pp. 81 sq. 

3 H. E. A. Meyer, " Manners and 
Customs of the Encounter Bay Tribe," 
in Native Tribes of South Australia 
(Adelaide, 1879), pp. 191 sq. 



IV PVOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 127 

old or sick ; and in traversing the bush you often stumble 
on a large party of them, scattered about in the forest, 
digging roots and collecting the different species of fungus," ^ 
In fertile districts, where the yams which the aborigines use 
as food grow abundantly, the ground may sometimes be seen 
riddled with holes made by the women in their search for 
these edible roots. Thus to quote Sir George Grey : " We 
now crossed the dry bed of a stream, and from that emerged 
upon a tract of light fertile soil, quite overrun with warran 
[yam] plants, the root of which is a favourite article of food 
with the natives. This was the first time we had yet seen 
this plant on our journey, and now for three and a half con- 
secutive miles we traversed a fertile piece of land, literally 
perforated with the holes the natives had made to dig this 
root ; indeed we could with difficulty walk across it on that 
account, whilst this tract extended east and west as far as 
we could see." ^ Again, in the valley of the Lower Murray 
River a kind of yam {Mtcroseris Forsteri) grew plentifully 
and was easily found in the spring and early summer, when 
the roots were dug up out of the earth by the women and 
children. The root is small and of a sweetish taste and 
grows throughout the greater part of Australia outside 
the tropics ; on the alpine pastures of the high Australian 
mountains it attains to a much larger size and furnishes a 
not unpalatable food,^ But the women gather edible herbs 
and seeds as well as roots ; and at evening they may be 
seen trooping in to the camp, each with a great bundle of 
sow-thistles, dandelions, or trefoil on her head,* or carrying 
wooden vessels filled with seeds, which they afterwards 
grind up between stones and knead into a paste with water 
or bake into cakes.^ Among the aborigines of central 
Victoria, while the men hunted, the women dug up edible 

^ (Sir) George Grey, /otir/ials of of Victoria (Melbourne, 1878), i. 209. 
Two Expeditions of Discovery in ■* P. Beveridge, " Of the Aborigines 

North- West and Western Australia inhabiting the Great Lacustrine and 

(London, 1 841), ii. 292 sq. The Riverine Depression of tlie Lower 

women also collect the nuts from the Murray, Lower Murrumbidgee, Lower 

palms in the month of March {id. Lachlan, and Lower Darling,"y(7?/;-«a/ 

ii. 296). and Proceedittgs of the Royal Society of 

^ (Sir) George Grey, op. cit. ii. 12. Nerv South Wales for i88j, vol. xvii. 

The yam referred to is a species of (Sydney, 1884) p. 36. 
Diascorea, like the sweet potato. ^ R. Brough Smyth, The Aborigines 

^ R. Brough Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, i. 214. 



128 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE chap. 

roots and gathered succulent vegetables, such as the young 
tops of the immya, the sow-thistle, and several kinds of fig- 
marigold. The implement which they used to dig up roots 
with was a pole seven or eight feet long, hardened in the 
fire and pointed at the end, which also served them as a 
weapon both of defence and of offence.^ Among the tribes of 
Central Australia the principal vegetable food is the seed of 
a species of Claytonia, called by white men mmijeru, which 
the women gather in large quantities and winnow by pouring 
the little black seeds from one vessel to another so as to let 
the wind blow the loose husks away.^ 
The In these customs observed by savages who are totally 

^'SS'ng of ignorant of agriculture we may perhaps detect some of the 
for wild steps by which mankind have advanced from the enjoyment 
havMecTL °^ ^'^^ ^^^^^ fruits of the earth to the systematic cultivation 
the origin of plants. For an effect of digging up the earth in the 
culture search for roots has probably been in many cases to enrich 
and fertilise the soil and so to increase the crop of roots or 
herbs ; and such an increase would naturally attract the 
natives in larger numbers and enable them to subsist for 
longer periods on the spot without being compelled by the 
speedy exhaustion of the crop to shift their quarters and 
wander away in search of fresh supplies. Moreover, the 
winnowing of the seeds on ground which had thus been 
turned up by the digging-sticks of the women would naturally 
contribute to the same result. For though savages at the 
level of the Californian Indians and the aborigines of 
Australia have no idea of using seeds for any purpose but 
that of immediate consumption, and it has never occurred to 
them to incur a temporary loss for the sake of a future gain 
by sowing them in the ground, yet it is almost certain that 
in the process of winnowing the seeds as a preparation for 
eating them many of the grains must have escaped and, 
being wafted by the wind, have fallen on the upturned soil 
and borne fruit. Thus by the operations of turning up the 
ground and winnowing the seed, though neither operation 

1 W. Stanbridge, " Some Particulars hgica/ Society of LoJiiion,l^.S.,\. (i?>6i) 

of the General Characteristics, Astro- p. 291. 

nomy, and Mythology of the Tribes in 2 Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen, 

the Central Part of Victoria, South Native Tribes of Central Australia 

Australia," Transactions of the Ethuo- (London, 1899), p. 22. 



IV IFOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 129 

aimed at anything beyond satisfying the immediate pangs 
of hunger, savage man or rather savage woman was uncon- 
sciously preparing for the whole community a future and 
more abundant store of food, which would enable them to 
multiply and to abandon the old migratory and wasteful 
manner of life for a more settled and economic mode of 
existence. So curiously sometimes does man, aiming his 
shafts at a near but petty mark, hit a greater and more 
distant target. 

On the whole, then, it appears highly probable that as a The dis- 
consequence of a certain natural division of labour between agrTJuimre 
the sexes women have contributed more than men towards due mainly 
the greatest advance in economic history, namely, the 
transition from a nomadic to a settled life, from a natural to 
an artificial basis of subsistence. 

Among the Aryan peoples of Europe the old practice women as 
of hoeing the ground as a preparation for sowing appears to ^fp^i" 
have been generally replaced at a very remote period by labourers 
the far more effective process of ploughing ; ^ and as the Aryan's of 
labour of ploughing practically necessitates the employment Europe. 
of masculine strength, it is hardly to be expected that in 
Europe many traces should remain of the important part 
formerly played by women in primitive agriculture. How- 
ever, we are told that among the Iberians of Spain and the 
Athamanes of Epirus the women tilled the ground,^ and 
that among the ancient Germans the care of the fields was 
left to the women and old men.^ But these indications of The Greek 
an age when the cultivation of the ground was committed ofthe'^""" 
mainly to feminine hands are few and slight ; and if the Corn 
Greek conception of Demeter as a goddess of corn and probably 
agriculture really dates from such an age and was directly originated 

1 ,• • • r 1 1 1 1 . in a .simple 

suggested by such a division ot labour between the sexes, it per 



' O. Schrader, Reallexikon der indo- of a plough drawn by oxen and guided 

gennanischen Altertiimskunde (Stras- by a ploughman : it is believed to date 

burg, 1901), pp. 6 sqq., 62,0 sgq. ; id., from the Bronze Age, See H. Hirt, 

Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte^ op. cit. i. 286. 

(Jena, 1905- 1907), ii- 201 sqq. ; H. , ^^^^^ ... ^^^ ^g^ . Heracli- 

Hirt, Bie Indogermanen, 1. 251 sqq., ^^^ Ponticus, "De rebus puhlicis," 33, 

263, 274. The use of oxen to draw j^ Fragmenta Historkorum Graecorum, 

the plough IS very ancient in Europe. ^^ ^ j^.-j,^^^ jj_ 
(Jn the rocks at Bohuslan in Sweden 

there is carved a rude representation ^ Tacitus, Germaiiia, 15. 

PT. V. VOL. 1 K 



;rsoni- 

fication of 

the corn. 



I30 WOMAN'S PART IN PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE ch. iv 

seems clear that its origin must be sought at a period far 
back in the history of the Aryan race, perhaps long before 
the segregation of the Greeks from the common stock and 
their formation into a separate people. It may be so, but 
to me I confess that this derivation of the conception appears 
somewhat far-fetched and improbable ; and I prefer to sup- 
pose that the idea of the corn as feminine was suggested 
to the Greek mind, not by the position of women in remote 
prehistoric ages, but by a direct observation of nature, the 
teeming head of corn appearing to the primitive fancy to 
resemble the teeming womb of a woman, and the ripe ear 
on the stalk being likened to a child borne in the arms or 
on the back of its mother. At least we know that similar 
sights suggest similar ideas to some of the agricultural 
negroes of West Africa. Thus the Hos of Togoland, who 
plant maize in February and reap it in July, say that the 
maize is an image of a mother ; when the cobs are forming, 
the mother is binding the infant on her back, but in July 
she sinks her head and dies and the child is taken away 
from her, to be afterwards multiplied at the next sowing.^ 
When the rude aborigines of Western Australia observe that 
a seed-bearing plant has flowered, they call it the Mother of 
So-and-so, naming the particular kind of plant, and they 
will not allow it to be dug up.^ Apparently they think that 
respect and regard are due to the plant as to a mother and 
her child. Such simple and natural comparisons, which 
may occur to men in any age and country, suffice to 
explain the Greek personification of the corn as mother and 
daughter, and we need not cast about for more recondite 
theories. Be that as it may, the conception of the corn as 
a woman and a mother was certainly not peculiar to the 
ancient Greeks, but has been shared by them with many 
other races, as will appear abundantly from the instances 
which I shall cite in the following chapter. 

^ J. Spieth, Die Ewe-Stdmme (Ber- Expeditions of Discovery in North-tvest 
lin, 1906), p. 313. and ^Vestern^usiraiia (London, 1S41), 



2 



(Sir) G. Grey, Journals of Two ii. 292. 



CHAPTER V 

THE CORN-MOTHER AND THE CORN-MAIDEN IN 
NORTHERN EUROPE 



It has been argued by W. Mannhardt that the first part Suggested 
of Demeter's name is derived from an alleged Cretan word ofthe^name 
deal, " barley," and that accordingly Demeter means neither Demeter. 
more nor less than " Barley-mother " or " Corn-mother " ; ^ 
for the root of the word seems to have been applied to 
different kinds of grain by different branches of the Aryans.^ 
As Crete appears to have been one of the most ancient 
seats of the worship of Demeter,^ it would not be surprising 
if her name were of Cretan origin. But the etymology is 
open to serious objections,* and it is safer therefore to lay 
no stress on it. Be that as it may, we have found inde- 
pendent reasons for identifying Demeter as the Corn-mother, 
and of the two species of corn associated with her in Greek 



^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungen (Strasburg, 1884), pp. 
292 sqq. See above, p. 40, note ^. 

* O. Schrader, Reallexikon der indo- 
gerniattischen Allertiimskuiide (Stras- 
burg, 1 90 1), pp. II, 289 ; id., Sprach- 
vergleichung und Urgeschichte'^ (Jena, 
1890), pp. 409, 422; id., Sprachver- 
gleichung und Urgeschichte ^ (Jena, 
1 905- 1 907), ii. 188 sq. Compare V. 
Hehn, Ktiltnrpflanzen ti>id Haiisthiere 
in ihrem Uebergang mis Asicti ^ (Berlin, 
1902), pp. 58 sq. 

^ Hesiod, Theog. 969 sqq. ; F. 
Lenormant, in Dareniberg et Saglio, 
Dictionnaire des Antiquitds Grecqiies 
et Romaines, i. 2, p. 1029 ; Kern, in 
Pauly - Wissowa's Real - Encydopddie 



der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 
iv. 2, coll. 2720 sq. 

■* My friend Professor J. H. Moulton 
tells me that there is great doubt as to 
the existence of a word ^t\a'i, " barley " 
{Etymologicutn Magnum, p. 264, lines 
12 sq.), and that the common form of 
Demeter's name, Ddmater (except in 
Ionic and Attic) is inconsistent with i) 
in the supposed Cretan form. ' ' Finally 
if oi]ai = ^€iai, you are bound to regard 
her as a Cretan goddess, or as arising 
in some other area where the dialect 
changed Indogermanic y into 5 and 
not f : since Ionic and Attic have f, 
tlie two crucial letters of the name tell 
different tales " (Professor J. H. 
Moulton, in a letter to me, dated 19 
December 1903), 



131 



132 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The Corn- 
mothcr 
among the 
Germans 
and the 
Slavs. 



religion, namely barley and wheat, the barley has perhaps 
the better claim to be her original element ; for not only 
would it seem to have been the staple food of the Greeks in 
the Homeric age, but there are grounds for believing that it 
is one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, cereal cultivated 
by the Aryan race. Certainly the use of barley in the 
religious ritual of the ancient Hindoos as well as of the 
ancient Greeks furnishes a strong argument in favour of the 
great antiquity of its cultivation, which is known to have 
been practised by the lake-dwellers of the Stone Age in 
Europe.^ 

Analogies to the Corn -mother or Barley -mother of 
ancient Greece have been collected in great abundance by 
W. Mannhardt from the folk-lore of modern Europe. The 
following may serve as specimens. 

In Germany the corn is very commonly personified 
under the name of the Corn-mother. Thus in spring, when 
the corn waves in the wind, the peasants say, " There comes 
the Corn-mother," or " The Corn-mother is running over the 
field," or " The Corn-mother is going through the corn." ^ 
When children wish to go into the fields to pull the blue 
corn-flowers or the red poppies, they are told not to do so, 
because the Corn-mother is sitting in the corn and will 
catch them.^ Or again she is called, according to the crop, 
the Rye-mother or the Pea-mother, and children are warned 
against straying in the rye or among the peas by threats of 
the Rye-mother or the Pea-mother. In Norway also the 
Pea-mother is said to sit among the peas.* Similar 
expressions are current among the Slavs. The Poles and 



1 A. Kuhn, Die Herabkunft des 
Feuers titid des Gdttertratiks ^ (Guters- 
loh, 1886), pp. 68 s^. ; O. Schrader, 
Reallexikon der indogermajtiscken 
Altertumskunde, pp. Ii, 12, 289; id., 
Sprachvergleichung uitd Urgesckickte,'^ 
ii. 189, 191, 197 sq. ; H. Hirt, Die 
Indogermanen (Strasbuig, 1905-1907), 
i. 276 sqq. In the oldest Vedic ritual 
barley and not rice is the cereal chiefly 
employed. See H. Oldenberg, Die 
Religion des Fi?^a(Berlin, 1894), p. 353. 
For evidence that barley was cultivated 
in Europe by the lake-dwellers of the 
Stone Age, see A. de Candolle, Origin 



of Cultivated Plants (London, 1884), 
pp. 368, 369 ; R. Munro, The Lake- 
dwellings of Europe (London, Paris, 
and Melbourne, 1890), pp. 497 sq. 
According to Pliny {Nat. Hist, xviii. 
72) barley was the oldest of all foods. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungen (Strasburg, 1884), p. 296. 
Compare O. Hartung, " Zur Volks- 
kunde aus Anhalt," Zeitschrift des 
Vereins fitr Volkskunde, vii. (1897) 
p. 150. 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschtingen {^X.x^'sowxg, 1884), p. 297. 

* Ibid. pp. 297 sq. 



V CORN- MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 133 

Czechs warn children against the Corn-mother who sits in 
the corn. Or they call her the old Corn-woman, and say 
that she sits in the corn and strangles the children who 
tread it down.^ The Lithuanians say, " The Old Rye- 
woman sits in the corn." ^ Again the Corn-mother is 
believed to make the crop grow. Thus in the neighbour- 
hood of Magdeburg it is sometimes said, " It will be a good 
year for flax ; the Flax- mother has been seen." At 
Dinkelsbiihl, in Bavaria, down to the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century, people believed that when the crops on a 
particular farm compared unfavourably with those of the 
neighbourhood, the reason was that the Corn-mother had 
punished the farmer for his sins.^ In a village of Styria it is 
said that the Corn-mother, in the shape of a female puppet 
made out of the last sheaf of corn and dressed in white, may 
be seen at midnight in the corn-fields, which she fertilises 
by passing through them ; but if she is angry with a farmer, 
she withers up all his corn.* 

Further, the Corn-mother plays an important part in The Corn- 
harvest customs. She is believed to be present in the "j^°iasV° 
handful of corn which is left standing last on the field ; and sheaf. 
with the cutting of this last handful she is caught, or driven 
away, or killed. In the first of these cases, the last sheaf 
is carried joyfully home and honoured as a divine being. 
It is placed in the barn, and at threshing the corn-spirit 
appears again.^ In the Hanoverian district of Hadeln the 
reapers stand round the last sheaf and beat it with sticks 
in order to drive the Corn-mother out of it. They call to 
each other, " There she is ! hit her ! Take care she doesn't 
catch you ! " The beating goes on till the grain is com- 
pletely threshed out ; then the Corn-mother is believed to 
be driven away.^ In the neighbourhood of Danzig the 
person who cuts the last ears of corn makes them into a 
doll, which is called the Corn-mother or the Old Woman 
and is brought home on the last waggon." In some parts 

^ Ibid. p. 299. Compare R. Andree, Forschiingeit, p. 310. 
Brazinschweiger Volkskimde (Bruns- * Ibid. pp. 310 sq. Compare O. 

wick, 1896), p. 281. Hartung, I.e. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische ^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 316. 

Forschungen, p. 300. '° Ibid. p. 316. 

^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische ^ Ibid. pp. 316 sq. 



134 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



Fertilising 
power of 
the Corn- 
mother. 



of Holstein the last sheaf is dressed in woman's clothes and 
called the Corn-mother. It is carried home on the last 
waggon, and then thoroughly drenched with water. The 
drenching with water is doubtless a rain-charm.^ In the 
district of Bruck in Styria the last sheaf, called the Corn- 
mother, is made up into the shape of a woman by the 
oldest married woman in the village, of an age from fifty to 
fifty-five years. The finest ears are plucked out of it and 
made into a wreath, which, twined with flowers, is carried on 
her head by the prettiest girl of the village to the farmer or 
squire, while the Corn-mother is laid down in the barn to 
keep off the mice.^ In other villages of the same district 
the Corn- mother, at the close of harvest, is carried by two 
lads at the top of a pole. They march behind the girl who 
wears the wreath to the squire's house, and while he receives 
the wreath and hangs it up in the hall, the Corn-mother is 
placed on the top of a pile of wood, where she is the centre 
of the harvest supper and dance. Afterwards she is hung 
up in the barn and remains there till the threshing is over. 
The man who gives the last stroke at threshing is called the 
son of the Corn-mother ; he is tied up in the Corn-mother, 
beaten, and carried through the village. The wreath is 
dedicated in church on the following Sunday ; and on 
Easter Eve the grain is rubbed out of it by a seven-years- 
old girl and scattered amongst the young corn. At Christ- 
mas the straw of the wreath is placed in the manger to 
make the cattle thrive.^ Here the fertilising power of the 
Corn-mother is plainly brought out by scattering the seed 
taken from her body (for the wreath is made out of the 
Corn-mother) among the new corn ; and her influence over 
animal life is indicated by placing the straw in the manger. 
At Westerhijsen, in Saxony, the last corn cut is made in the 
shape of a woman decked with ribbons and cloth. It is 
fastened to a pole and brought home on the last waggon. 
One of the people in the waggon keeps waving the pole, 
so that the figure moves as if alive. It is placed on the 
threshing-floor, and stays there till the threshing is done.'* 

1 Ibid. p. 317. As to such rain- Forschungen, p. 317. 

charms see Adonis, Attis, Osiris, ■>. tu-j »,» - 

o J ■I-' 1 • • Jotd. pp. 317 SQ. 

Second Edition, pp. 195-197. rr j / i 

- W. Mannhardt, Mythologische * Ibid. p. 318, 



V CORA-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 135 

Amongst the Slavs also the last sheaf is known as the The Corn- 
Rye - mother, the Wheat - mother, the Oats - mother, the "j^f f^^t '° 
Barley-mother, and so on, according to the crop. In the sheaf 
district of Tarnow, Galicia, the wreath made out of the last siavs and^ 
stalks is called the Wheat -mother. Rye-mother, or Pea- '" France. 
mother. It is placed on a girl's head and kept till spring, 
when some of the grain is mixed with the seed-corn.^ Here 
again the fertilising power of the Corn-mother is indicated. 
In France, also, in the neighbourhood of Auxerre, the last 
sheaf goes by the name of the Mother of the Wheat, Mother 
of the Barley, Mother of the Rye, or Mother of the Oats. 
They leave it standing in the field till the last waggon is 
about to wend homewards. Then they make a puppet out 
of it, dress it with clothes belonging to the farmer, and adorn 
it with a crown and a blue or white scarf. A branch of a tree 
is stuck in the breast of the puppet, which is now called the 
Ceres. At the dance in the evening the Ceres is set in the 
middle of the floor, and the reaper who reaped fastest dances 
round it with the prettiest girl for his partner. After the 
dance a pyre is made. All the girls, each wearing a wreath, 
strip the puppet, pull it to pieces, and place it on the pyre, 
along with the flowers with which it was adorned. Then 
the girl who was the first to finish reaping sets fire to the 
pile, and all pray that Ceres may give a fruitful year. Here, 
as Mannhardt observes, the old custom has remained intact, 
though the name Ceres is a bit of schoolmaster's learning.^ 
In Upper Brittany the last sheaf is always made into human 
shape ; but if the farmer is a married man, it is made double 
and consists of a little corn-puppet placed inside of a large 
one. This is called the Mother-sheaf It is delivered to the 
farmer's wife, who unties it and gives drink-money in return.^ 

Sometimes the last sheaf is called, not the Corn-mother, The 
but the Harvest - mother or the Great Mother. In the "o^'hefor 
province of Osnabrlick, Hanover, it is called the Harvest- the Great 
mother ; it is made up in female form, and then the reapers jj^g [^^ 
dance about with it. In some parts of Westphalia the last sheaf. 
sheaf at the rye-harvest is made especially heavy by fastening 

^ Ibid. 3 P. Sebillot, Coufumes populaires 

2 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. pp. 318 de la Haute- Bretagne (Paris, 1886), 
sq. p. 306. 



136 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The 
Grand- 
mother in 
the last 
sheaf. 



The Old 
Woman or 
the Old 
Man in the 
last sheaf. 



stones in it. They bring it home on the last waggon 
and call it the Great Mother, though they do not fashion 
it into any special shape. In the district of Erfurt a very 
heavy sheaf, not necessarily the last, is called the Great 
Mother, and is carried on the last waggon to the barn, 
where all hands lift it down amid a fire of jokes.^ 

Sometimes again the last sheaf is called the Grand- 
mother, and is adorned with flowers, ribbons, and a woman's 
apron. In East Prussia, at the rye or wheat harvest, the 
reapers call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, 
" You are getting the Old Grandmother." In the neigh- 
bourhood of Magdeburg the men and women servants strive 
who shall get the last sheaf, called the Grandmother. Who- 
ever gets it will be married in the next year, but his or 
her spouse will be old ; if a girl gets it, she will marry a 
widower ; if a man gets it, he will marry an old crone. In 
Silesia the Grandmother — a huge bundle made up of three 
or four sheaves by the person who tied the last sheaf — was 
formerly fashioned into a rude likeness of the human form.^ 
In the neighbourhood of Belfast the last sheaf sometimes 
goes by the name of the Granny. It is not cut in the usual 
way, but all the reapers throw their sickles at it and try to 
bring it down. It is plaited and kept till the (next ?) autumn. 
Whoever gets it will marry in the course of the year.^ 

Oftener the last sheaf is called the Old Woman or the 
Old Man. In Germany it is frequently shaped and dressed 
as a woman, and the person who cuts it or binds it is said to 
" get the Old Woman." * At Altisheim, in Swabia, when all 
the corn of a farm has been cut except a single strip, all 
the reapers stand in a row before the strip ; each cuts his 
share rapidly, and he who gives the last cut " has the Old 
Woman." ^ When the sheaves are being set up in heaps, 
the person who gets hold of the Old Woman, which is the 
largest and thickest of all the sheaves, is jeered at by the 
rest, who call out to him, " He has the Old Woman and 
must keep her." *" The woman who binds the last sheaf is 

MytJioIos^ische 



' W. Mannhardt 
Fotschungen, p. 319. 

2 W. ' Mannhardt 
Forsckttngen, p. 320. 

^ Ibid. p. 321. 



\ Ibid. pp. 321, 323, 325 sq. 
" Ibid. p. 323 ; F. Panzer, Reit7-ag 
AlythoIogiscJii- ziir dentschen Mythologie (Munich, 
184S-1855), ii. p. 219, § 403. 
" W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 325. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 137 

sometimes herself called the Old Woman, and it is said 
that she will be married in the next year.^ In Neusaass, 
West Prussia, both the last sheaf — which is dressed up in 
jacket, hat, and ribbons — and the woman who binds it are 
called the Old Woman. Together they are brought home 
on the last waggon and are drenched with water.^ In 
various parts of North Germany the last sheaf at harvest is 
made up into a human ^^gy and called " the Old Man "; 
and the woman who bound it is said " to have the Old 
Man." ^ At Hornkampe, near Tiegenhof (West Prussia), 
when a man or woman lags behind the rest in binding the 
corn, the other reapers dress up the last sheaf in the form of 
a man or woman, and this figure goes by the laggard's 
name, as " the old Michael," " the idle Trine." It is brought 
home on the last waggon, and, as it nears the house, the 
bystanders call out to the laggard, " You have got the Old 
Woman and must keep her." ^ In Brandenburg the young 
folks on the harvest-field race towards a sheaf and jump 
over it. The last to jump over it has to carry a straw 
puppet, adorned with ribbons, to the farmer and deliver it to 
him while he recites some verses. Of the person who thus 
carries the puppet it is said that " he has the Old Man." 
Probably the puppet is or used to be made out of the last corn 
cut.^ In many districts of Saxony the last sheaf used to be 
adorned with ribbons and set upright so as to look like a 
man. It was then known as " the Old Man," and the 
young women brought it back in procession to the farm, 
singing as they went, " Now we are bringing the Old Man." '^ 

In West Prussia, when the last rye is being raked The Old 
together, the women and girls hurry with the work, for none ^g o?d 
of them likes to be the last and to get " the Old Man," that woman i 
is, a puppet made out of the last sheaf, which must be carried shLr 
before the other reapers by the person who was the last 

^ Ibid. p. 323. •* W. ATannhaidt, op. cit. pp. 323 

2 Ibid •^^; 

° H. Prahn, " Glaube und Brauch 

^ A. Kuhn and W. Schwaitz, in der Mark Brandenburg," Zeitschrift 

Norddeittsche Sagen, Mdrchen tind des Vereins fiir Volkskiindc, i. (189 1) 

Gebrduche {l^t\i^%\c., 1848), pp. 396 sq., pp. 186 sq. 

399 ; K. Bartsch, Sagen, Mdrckett und ^ K. Haiipt, Sagenbuch der Latisitz 

Gebrduche aus Meklenburg (Vienna, (Leipsic, 1862- 1863), i. p. 233, No. 

1879-1880), ii. 309, § 1494. 277 note. 



138 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

to finish.^ In Silesia the last sheaf is called the Old Woman 
or the Old Man and is the theme of many jests ; it is made 
unusually large and is sometimes weighted with a stone. 
At Girlachsdorf, near Reichenbach, when this heavy sheaf is 
lifted into the waggon, they say, " That is the Old Man 
whom we sought for so long." ^ Among the Germans of 
West Bohemia the man who cuts the last corn is said to 
" have the Old Man." In former times it used to be 
customary to put a wreath on his head and to play all kinds 
of pranks with him, and at the harvest supper he was given 
the largest portion.^ At Wolletz in Westphalia the last 
sheaf at harvest is called the Old Man, and being made up 
into the likeness of a man and decorated with flowers it is 
presented to the farmer, who in return prepares a feast for the 
reapers. About Unna, in Westphalia, the last sheaf at 
harvest is made unusually large, and stones are inserted to 
increase its weight. It is called de greaute meaur (the Grey 
Mother?), and when it is brought home on the waggon 
water is thrown on the harvesters who accompany it.* 
Among the Wends the man or woman who binds the last 
sheaf at wheat harvest is said to " have the Old Man." 
A puppet is made out of the wheaten straw and ears in the 
likeness of a man and decked with flowers. The person 
who bound the last sheaf must carry the Old Man home, 
while the rest laugh and jeer at him. The puppet is hung 
up in the farmhouse and remains till a new Old Man is 
made at the next harvest.^ At the close of the harvest the 
Arabs of Moab bury the last sheaf in a grave in the corn- 
field, saying as they do so, " We are burying the Old Man," 
or " The Old Man is dead." ^ 
identifica- In some of these customs, as Mannhardt has remarked, 

harvester^ the person who is called by the same name as the last sheaf 
with the and sits beside it on the last waggon is obviously identified 

corn- spirit. 

1 R. Krause, Sit/en, Gebrduche und < A. Kuhn, Sagen, Gebrduche und 

Aberglatiben in Westpreusseii (Berlin, Mdrche7tauslVestfalen{'L,^\'^%\c,\%'^(^), 

preface dated March 1904), p. 51. ii. 184, §§ 512 b, 514. 

^ P. Drechsler, Sitte. Branch und h -m c u 1 1. ^tr j- t... 

„,,,,.„,' ,V . . ^ W. von Schulenburc:, Wendisches 

yol/isglatihe in Scnlesien (Lc\\>s,ic, IQOT,- rz tl ^u iv> r .00^? ,.., 

^f .. , \ f ' y D Volksthum (Berlin, 1802), p. 147. 

1906), 11. 65 sqq. ^ ' /> t^ t' 

^ A. John, Sitte, Branch und ^ A. Jaussen, Couttimes des Arabes 

Volksglaube im deutschen Westbohmen au pays de Aloab (Paris, 1908), pp. 

(Prague, 1905), p. 189. 252 sq. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 139 

with it ; he or she represents the corn-spirit which has been 
caught in the last sheaf ; in other words, the corn-spirit is 
represented in dupHcate, by a human being and by a sheaf.^ 
The identification of the person with the sheaf is made still 
clearer by the custom of wrapping up in the last sheaf the 
person who cuts or binds it. Thus at Hermsdorf in Silesia 
it used to be the regular practice to tie up in the last sheaf 
the woman who had bound it.^ At Weiden, in Bavaria, it 
is the cutter, not the binder, of the last sheaf who is tied 
up in it.^ Here the person wrapt up in the corn repre- 
sents the corn-spirit, exactly as a person wrapt in branches 
or leaves represents the tree-spirit.* 

The last sheaf, designated as the Old Woman, is often The last 
distinguished from the other sheaves by its size and weight. ^^^''5^21^^*' 
Thus in some villages of West Prussia the Old Woman is inrge and 
made twice as long and thick as a common sheaf, and a ^^^^' 
stone is fastened in the middle of it. Sometimes it is made 
so heavy that a man can barely lift it.^ At Alt-Pillau, 
in Samland, eight or nine sheaves are often tied together 
to make the Old Woman, and the man who sets it up 
grumbles at its weight." At Itzgrund, in Saxe-Coburg, 
the last sheaf, called the Old Woman, is made large with 
the express intention of thereby securing a good crop next 
year.'^ Thus the custom of making the last sheaf unusually 
large or heavy is a charm, working by sympathetic magic, 
to ensure a large and heavy crop at the following harvest. 
In Denmark also the last sheaf is made larger than the 
others, and is called the Old Rye-woman or the Old Barley- 
woman. No one likes to bind it, because whoever does so 
will be sure, they think, to marry an old man or an old 
woman. Sometimes the last wheat-sheaf, called the Old 
Wheat-woman, is made up in human shape, with head, 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische gestriegelte Rockenphilosophie (Chem- 
Forschtmgen, p. 324. nitz, 1759) mentions (p. 891) the 

2 Ji,iJ_ p. ■220. German superstition that the last sheaf 

-< wi -Kf u j^ ^ ■■, -.,, should be made large in order that 

^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 321;. ,, , , t_ r 

. ^ ^, . , , all the sheaves next year may be of 

* See Tht Mag2C Art and the ^^^ ^^^^ ^j^^ . ^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ j^^^hj^g ^ 

Evolution of Kings, 11. -ji^sqq. ^^ ^^^ ^j^^p^ ^^ ^^^^^ ^f the .sheaf. 

5 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 324. Compare A. John, Sitte, Branch und 

® Ibid. pp. 324 sq. Volksglaube im deutschen Westbohtnen 

^ Ibid. p. 325. The author of Die (Prague, 1905), p. 188. 



J40 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



CHAP. 



The Carlin 
and the 
Maiden in 
Scotland. 



The Old 

Wife(Ca27- 
leach) at 
harvest in 
the High- 
lands of 
Scotland. 



The Old 
Wife 

[Cailleach) 
in the last 



arms, and legs, and being dressed in clothes is carried 
home on the last waggon, while the harvesters sit beside 
it drinking and huzzaing.^ Of the person who binds the 
last sheaf it is said, " She or he is the Old Rye-woman." ^ 

In Scotland, when the last corn was cut after Hallowmas, 
the female figure made out of it was sometimes called the 
Carlin or Carline, that is, the Old Woman. But if cut 
before Hallowmas, it was called the Maiden ; if cut after 
sunset, it was called the Witch, being supposed to bring bad 
luck.^ Among the Highlanders of Scotland the last corn 
cut at harvest is known either as the Old Wife {Cailleach) 
or as the Maiden ; on the whole the former name seems to 
prevail in the western and the latter in the central and 
eastern districts. Of the Maiden we shall speak presently ; 
here we are dealing with the Old Wife. The following 
general account of the custom is given by a careful and 
well-informed enquirer, the Rev. J. G. Campell, minister of 
the remote Hebridean island of Tiree : " The Harvest Old 
Wife {a ChailleacJi). — In harvest, there was a struggle to 
escape from being the last done with the shearing,* and when 
tillage in common existed, instances were known of a ridge 
being left unshorn (no person would claim it) because of it 
being behind the rest. The fear entertained was that of 
having the ' famine of the farm ' {govt a hhaile), in the shape 
of an imaginary old woman {cailleach), to feed till next 
harvest. Much emulation and amusement arose from the 
fear of this old woman. . . . The first done made a doll of 
some blades of corn, which was called the ' old wife,' and 
sent it to his nearest neighbour. He in turn, when ready, 
passed it to another still less expeditious, and the person it 
last remained with had ' the old woman ' to keep for that 
year." ^ 

To illustrate the custom by examples, in Bernera, 
on the west of Lewis, the harvest rejoicing goes by 
the name of the Old Wife {Cailleach) from the last sheaf 



1 W. Mannhardt, op. cii. p. 327. 

2 Ibid. p. 328. 

3 J. Jamieson, Dictionary of the 
Scottish Language, New Edition 
(Paisley, 1879-1SS2), iii. 206, s.v. 



"Maiden,''; \V. Mannhardt, iJ/i////^?/^?- 
gische Forschungcn, p. 326. 

* That is, with the reaping. 

^ Rev. J. G. Campbell, Superstitions 
of the Highlands and Islands of 
Scotland (Glasgow. 1 900), pp. 243 sq. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 141 

cut, whether in a township, farm, or croft. Where there sheaf at 
are a number of crofts beside each other, there is always n^g islands 
great rivalry as to who shall first finish reaping, and so of Lewis 
have the Old Wife before his neighbours. Some people 
even go out on a clear night to reap their fields after their 
neighbours have retired to rest, in order that they may have 
the Old Wife first. More neighbourly habits, however, 
usually prevail, and as each finishes his own fields he goes 
to the help of another, till the whole crop is cut. The reap- 
insf is still done with the sickle. When the corn has been 
cut on all the crofts, the last sheaf is dressed up to look as 
like an old woman as possible. She wears a white cap, a 
dress, an apron, and a little shawl over the shoulders fastened 
with a sprig of heather. The apron is tucked up to form a 
pocket, which is stuffed with bread and cheese. A sickle, 
stuck in the string of the apron at the back, completes her 
equipment. This costume and outfit mean that the Old 
Wife is ready to bear a hand in the work of harvesting. 
At the feast which follows, the Old Wife is placed at the 
head of the table, and as the whisky goes round each of the 
company drinks to her, saying, " Here's to the one that has 
helped us with the harvest." When the table has been 
cleared away and dancing begins, one of the lads leads out 
the Old Wife and dances with her ; and if the night is fine 
the party will sometimes go out and march in a body to a 
considerable distance, singing harvest-songs, while one of 
them carries the Old Wife on his back. When the Harvest- 
Home is over, the Old Wife is shorn of her gear and used 
for ordinary purposes.^ In the island of Islay the last corn 
cut also goes by the name of the Old Wife {Cailleach\ and 
when she has done her duty at harvest she is hung up on the 
wall and stays there till the time comes to plough the fields 
for the next year's crop. Then she is taken down, and on the 
first day when the men go to plough she is divided among 
them by the mistress of the house. They take her in their 
pockets and give her to the horses to eat when they reach 
the field. This is supposed to secure good luck for the next 
harvest, and is understood to be the proper end of the Old 

1 R. C. Maclagan, "Notes on folk-lore objects collected in Argyleshire," 
Folk-lore, vi. (1895) pp. I49 ■s'i'- 



142 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The Old 
Wife at 
harvest in 
Argyle- 
shire. 



The reaper 
of the last 
sheaf called 
the Winter. 



The Hag 
{wracli) 
at harvest 
in North 
Pembroke- 
shire. 



Wife/ In Kintyre also the name of the Old Wife is given 
to the last corn cut.^ On the shores of the beautiful Loch 
Awe, a long sheet of water, winding among soft green hills, 
above which the giant Ben Cruachan towers bold and rugged 
on the north, the harvest custom is somewhat different. 
The name of the Old Wife {Cailleach) is here bestowed, not 
on the last corn cut, but on the reaper who is the last to 
finish. He bears it as a term of reproach, and is not 
privileged to reap the last ears left standing. On the con- 
trary, these are cut by the reaper who was the first to finish 
his spagh or strip (literally *' claw "), and out of them is 
fashioned the Maiden, which is afterwards hung up, accord- 
ing to one statement, " for the purpose of preventing the 
death of horses in spring."^ In the north-east of Scotland 
" the one who took the last of the grain from the field to 
the stackyard was called the ' winter.' Each one did what 
could be done to avoid being the last on the field, and when 
there were several on the field there was a race to get off. 
The unfortunate ' winter ' was the subject of a good deal of 
teasing, and was dressed up in all the old clothes that could 
be gathered about the farm, and placed on the ' bink ' to eat 
his supper." * So in Caithness the person who cuts the last 
sheaf is called Winter and retains the name till the next 
harvest.^ 

Usages of the same sort are reported from Wales. Thus 
in North Pembrokeshire a tuft of the last corn cut, from six 
to twelve inches long, is plaited and goes by the name of the 
Hag iwracli) ; and quaint old customs used to be practised 
with it within the memory of many persons still alive. 
Great was the excitement among the reapers when the last 
patch of standing corn was reached. All in turn threw 
their sickles at it, and the one who succeeded in cutting it 
received a jug of home-brewed ale. The Hag {wrack) was 
then hurriedly made and taken to a neighbouring farm, 
where the reapers were still busy at their work. This was 
generally done by the ploughman ; but he had to be very 



' R. C. Maclagan, c/. cii. p. 151. 

2 R. C. Maclagan, op. cit. p. 149. 

* Ibid. pp. 151 sg. 

* Rev. Walter Gregor, Notes on the 



Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland 
(London, 18S1), p. 182. 

^ Rev. J. Macdonald, Religimr and 
/l/i'/-^ (London, 1893), p. 141. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 143 

careful not to be observed by his neighbours, for if they saw 
him coming and had the least suspicion of his errand they 
would soon make him retrace his steps. Creeping stealthily 
up behind a fence he waited till the foreman of his neigh- 
bour's reapers was just opposite him and within easy reach. 
Then he suddenly threw the Hag over the fence and, if 
possible, upon the foreman's sickle, crying out 

" Boreu y codais i, 
Hwyr y dilynais i, 
Ar ei givar hi" 

On that he took to his heels and made off as fast as he 
could run, and he was a lucky man if he escaped without 
being caught or cut by the flying sickles which the infuriated 
reapers hurled after him. In other cases the Hag was 
brought home to the farmhouse by one of the reapers. He 
did his best to bring it home dry and without being observed ; 
but he was apt to be roughly handled by the people of 
the house, if they suspected his errand. Sometimes they 
stripped him of most of his clothes, sometimes they would 
drench him with water which had been carefully stored 
in buckets and pans for the purpose. If, however, he 
succeeded in bringing the Hag in dry and unobserved, the 
master of the house had to pay him a small fine ; or some- 
times a jug of beer "from the cask next to the wall," which 
seems to have commonly held the best beer, would be 
demanded by the bearer. The Hag was then carefully 
hung on a nail in the hall or elsewhere and kept there all 
the year. The custom of bringing in the Hag {wradi) into 
the house and hanging it up still exists in some farms of 
North Pembrokeshire, but the ancient ceremonies which have 
just been described are now discontinued.^ 

Similar customs at harvest were observed in South 

1 D. Jenkyn Evans, in an article to be that the man has pursued the 

entitled "The Harvest Customs of Hag or Corn-spirit to a later reftige, 

Pembrokeshire," Pembroke County namely, his neighbour's field not yet 

Guardian, 7th December 1895. In a completely reaped, and now he leaves 

letter to me, dated 23 February 1901, her for the other reapers to catch. 

Mr. E. S. Hnrtland was so good as to The proper form of the Welsh word for 

correct the Welsh words in the text. Hag is Gwrack. That is the radical 

He tells me that they mean literally, from gwr, man ; gwraig, woman. 

"I rose early, I pursued late on her Wrack \s Xhe 'middle mutation.' " 
neck," and he adds : " The idea seems 



144 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

The Hag Pembrokeshire within living memory. In that part of 

harvest in^ the country there used to be a competition between 

South neighbouring farms to see which would finish reaping 

shire. fi^st. The foreman of the reapers planned so as to 

finish the reaping in a corner of the field out of sight 

of the people on the next farm. There, with the last 

handful of corn cut, he would make two Old Women or 

Hags {^racks'). One of them he would send by a lad 

or other messenger to be laid secretly in the field where 

the neighbours were still at work cutting their corn. The 

messenger would disguise himself to look like a stranger, 

and jumping the fence and creeping through the corn he 

would lay the Hag {tvracJi) in a place where the reapers in 

reaping would be sure to find it. Having done so he fled 

for dear life, for were the reapers to catch him they would 

shut him up in a dark room and not let him out till he had 

cleaned all the muddy boots, shoes, and clogs in the house. 

The second Hag {wrack) was sent or taken by the foreman 

of the reapers to his master's farmhouse. Generally he tried 

to pop into the house unseen and lay the Hag on the 

kitchen table ; but if the people of the farm caught him 

before he laid it down, they used to drench him with water. 

If a foreman succeeded in getting both the Hags {wracks) 

laid safe in their proper quarters, one at home, the other on a 

neighbour's farm, without interruption, it was deemed a great 

TheCariey honour.^ In County Antrim, down to some years ago, 

at harvest ^hg^ the sickle was finally expelled by the reaping machine, 

the few stalks of corn left standing last on the field were 

plaited together ; then the reapers, blindfolded, threw their 

sickles at the plaited corn, and whoever happened to cut it 

through took it home with him and put it over his door. 

This bunch of corn was called the Carley ^ — probably the 

same word as Carlin. 

The Old Similar customs are observed by Slavonic peoples. Thus 

(the'B^aba) '^ Poland the last sheaf is commonly called the Baba, that 

at harvest is, the Old Woman. "In the last sheaf," it is said, " sits the 

Slavonic Baba." The sheaf itself is also called the Baba, and is 

peoples. 

1 M. S. Clark, "An old South ^ Communicated by my friend Pro- 

Pembrokeshire Harvest Custom," Folk- fessor W. Ridgeway. 
lore, XV. (1904) pp. 194-196. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 145 

sometimes composed of twelve smaller sheaves lashed to- 
gether.^ In some parts of Bohemia the Baba, made out of 
the last sheaf, has the figure of a woman with a great straw 
hat. It is carried home on the last harvest-waggon and 
delivered, along with a garland, to the farmer by two girls. 
In binding the sheaves the women strive not to be last, for 
she who binds the last sheaf will have a child next year.^ 
The last sheaf is tied up with others into a large bundle, and 
a green branch is stuck on the top of it.^ Sometimes the 
harvesters call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, 
" She has the Baba," or '' She is the Baba." She has then 
to make a puppet, sometimes in female, sometimes in male 
form, out of the corn ; the puppet is occasionally dressed 
with clothes, often with flowers and ribbons only. The 
cutter of the last stalks, as well as the binder of the last 
sheaf, v/as also called Baba ; and a doll, called the Harvest- 
woman, w^as made out of the last sheaf and adorned w^ith 
ribbons. The oldest reaper had to dance, first with this doll, 
and then with the farmer's wife.'* In the district of Cracow, 
when a man binds the last sheaf, they say, " The Grandfather 
is sitting in it " ; when a w^oman binds it, they say, " The Baba 
is sitting in it," and the woman herself is wrapt up in the 
sheaf, so that only her head projects out of it. Thus en- 
cased in the sheaf, she is carried on the last harvest-waggon 
to the house, where she is drenched with w^ater by the whole 
family. She remains in the sheaf till the dance is over, and 
for a year she retains the name of Baba.^ 

In Lithuania the name for the last sheaf is Boba (Old The Old 
Woman), answering to the Polish name Baba. The Boba is (the'Eaba) 
said to sit in the corn which is left standing last.® The at harvest 
person who binds the last sheaf or digs the last potato is the ^^i^ 
subject of much banter, and receives and long retains the 
name of the Old Rye-woman or the Old Potato-woman.^ 
The last sheaf — the Boba — is made into the form of a 
woman, carried solemnly through the village on the last 
harvest-waggon, and drenched with water at the farmer's 
house ; then every one dances with it.^ 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische * Ibid. p. 329. 
Forscktnigen, p. 328. ^ Ibid. p. 330. ^ Ibid. 

2 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 23S. f W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 331. 

3 Ibid. pp. 328 j^?. ^ Ibid. 

PT. v. VOL. I L 



146 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



queen. 



The Corn- In Russia also the last sheaf is often shaped and dressed 

Uie^" ^^^ ^^ ^ woman, and carried with dance and song to the farm- 
Harvest- house. Out of the last sheaf the Bulgarians make a doll 
which they call the Corn-queen or Corn-mother ; it is dressed 
in a woman's shirt, carried round the village, and then thrown 
into the river in order to secure plenty of rain and dew for 
the next year's crop. Or it is burned and the ashes strewn 
on the fields, doubtless to fertilise them.^ The name Queen, 
as applied to the last sheaf, has its analogies in central 
and northern Europe. Thus, in the Salzburg district of 
Austria, at the end of the harvest a great procession takes 
place, in which a Queen of the Corn-ears {Ahreiikontgin) is 
drawn along in a little carriage by young fellows.^ The 
custom of the Harvest Queen appears to have been common 
in England. Brand quotes from Hutchinson's History of 
Northumberland the following : " I have seen, in some places, 
an image apparelled in great finery, crowned with flowers, a 
sheaf of corn placed under her arm, and a scycle in her hand, 
carried out of the village in the morning of the conclusive 
reaping day, with music and much clamour of the reapers, 
into the field, where it stands fixed on a pole all day, and 
when the reaping is done, is brought home in like manner. 
This they call the Harvest Queen, and it represents the 
Roman Ceres." ^ Again, the traveller Dr. E. D. Clarke tells 
us that " even in the town of Cambridge, and centre of our 
University, such curious remains of antient customs may be 
noticed, in different seasons of the year, which pass without 
observation. The custom of blowing horns upon the 
first of May (Old Style) is derived from a festival in honour 
of Diana. At the Hazukie, as it is called, or Harvest 
Home, I have seen a clown dressed in woman's clothes, 
having his face painted, his head decorated with ears of corn, 
and bearing about him other symbols of Ceres, carried in a 
waggon, with great pomp and loud shouts, through the 
streets, the horses being covered with white sheets : and when 
I inquired the meaning of the ceremony, was answered by 
the people that they were drawing the Morgay (MHTHP FH) 

1 Ibid. p. 332. 3 Hutchinson, Ilistoiy of Noi-thum- 

Vernaleken, Mythen und bey-land, ii. ad Jiiiem, 17, quoted by 

J. Brand, Popitlar Antiquities of Great 



2 Th. 
Brduche 



des Volkes in 



und 
Oesterreich 



(Vienna, 1859), p. 310. 



Briiaifi, ii. 20, Bohn's edition. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 147 

or Harvest Queen." ^ Milton must have been familiar with 
the custom of the Harvest Queen, for in Paradise Lost''' 
he says : — 

'■'■Adam the while 

Waiting desirous her return, had wove 

Of choicest Jiotd rs a garland to adorn 

Her tresses, and her rural labours crown. 

As reapers oft are wont their harvest-gtieen." 

Often customs of this sort are practised, not on the The corn- 
harvest-field but on the threshing-floor. The spirit of the ^hTow 
corn, fleeing before the reapers as they cut down the Woman or 
ripe grain, quits the reaped corn and takes refuge in the at thre^h- 
barn, where it appears in the last sheaf threshed, either to i°g- 
perish under the blows of the flail or to flee thence to the 
still unthreshed corn of a neighbouring farm.^ Thus the last 
corn to be threshed is called the Mother-Corn or the Old 
Woman. Sometimes the person who gives the last stroke 
with the flail is called the Old Woman, and is wrapt in the 
straw of the last sheaf, or has a bundle of straw fastened on 
his back. Whether wrapt in the straw or carrying it on his 
back, he is carted through the village amid general laughter. 
In some districts of Bavaria, Thuringen, and elsewhere, the 
man who threshes the last sheaf is said to have the Old 
Woman or the Old Corn-woman ; he is tied up in straw, 
carried or carted about the village, and set down at last 

^ E. D. Clarke, Travels in Various hbkelmei, hbrkelmei, or karkelmei, 

Cotmtries of Europe, Asia, and Africa, which in Westphalia is applied to a 

Part ii. , Section First, Second Edition green bush or tree set up in the field at 

(London, 1813), p. 229. Perhaps the end of harvest and brought home in 

Morgay (which Clarke absurdly ex- the last waggon-load ; the man who 

plains as fi'rjTrip yj}) is a mistake for carries it into the farmhouse is some- 

Hawkie or Hockey. The waggon in times drenched with water. See A. 

which the last corn was brought from Kuhn, Sagen, Gebrdtuhe uiid Mdrchen 

the harvest field was called the hockey aus Westfalen (Leipsic, 1859), ii. 178- 

cart or hock cart. In a poem called 180, §§494-497. The word is thought 

"The Hock-cart or Harvest Home" to be derived from the Low German /<o/5'ir 

Herrick has described the joyous return (plural hokken), "a heap of sheaves." 

of the laden cart drawn by horses See Joseph Wright, English Dialect 

swathed in white sheets and attended Dictionaty, iii. (London, 1902) p. 190, 

by a merry crowd, some of whom s.v. " Hockey," from which it appears 

kissed or stroked the sheaves, while that in England the word has been in 

others pranked them with oak leaves. use in Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, and 

See further J. Brand, Popidar An- Suffolk. 

tiquities, ii. 22 sq., Bohn's edition. ^ Book ix. lines 838-842. 

The name Hockey or Haivkie is no ^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 

doubt the same with the German Forschungen, pp. 333 sq. 



148 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The man 
who gives 
the last 
stroke at 
threshing 
is called the 
Corn-fool, 
the Oats- 
fool, etc. 



The man 
who gives 
the last 
stroke at 
threshing 
is said to 
get the Old 
Woman 
or the 
Old Man. 



on the dunghill, or taken to the threshing-floor of a neighbour- 
ing farmer who has not finished his threshing.^ In Poland 
the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is called 
Baba (Old Woman) ; he is wrapt in corn and wheeled 
through the village." Sometimes in Lithuania the last sheaf 
is not threshed, but is fashioned into female shape and 
carried to the barn of a neighbour who has not finished 
his threshing.^ 

At Chorinchen, near Neustadt, the man who gives the 
last stroke at threshing is said to " get the Old Man." ^ 
In various parts of Austrian Silesia he is called the corn- 
fool, the oats-fool, and so forth according to the crop, and 
retains the name till the next kind of grain has been reaped. 
Sometimes he is called the Kltippel or mallet. He is much 
ridiculed and in the Bennisch district he is dressed out 
in the threshing-implements and obliged to carry them 
about the farmyard to the amusement of his fellows. In 
Dobischwald the man who gives the last stroke at threshing 
has to carry a log or puppet of wood wrapt in straw to a 
neighbour who has not yet finished his threshing. There 
he throws his burden into the barn, crying, " There you 
have the Mallet {Kloppel)" and makes off as fast as he can. 
If they catch him, they tie the puppet on his back, and 
he is known as the Mallet {Kloppel) for the whole of the 
year ; he may be the Corn-mallet or the Wheat-mallet or 
so forth according to the particular crop.^ 

About Berneck, in Upper Franken, the man who gives 
the last stroke at threshing runs away. If the others catch 
him, he gets " the Old Woman," that is, the largest dumpling, 
which elsewhere is baked in human shape. The custom of 
setting a dumpling baked in the form of an old woman 
before the man who has given the last stroke at threshing is 
also observed in various parts of Middle Franken. Some- 
times the excised genitals of a calf are served up to him 
at table.® At Langenbielau in Silesia the last sheaf, which 



1 Ibid. p. 334. 

^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische For- 
schtingcn, p. 334. ^ .jf,i(ji_ p_ ^36. 

* A. Kuhn and W. Schwartz, 
Norddeutsche Sagen, Mdrchcii iind 
Gebrdtiche (Leipsic, 1848), p. 397. 



" A. Peter, Volksthiimliches aus Oster- 
reichisch - Schlesien (Troppau, 1865- 
1867), ii. 270. 

^ Bavaria landes- und Volkshinde 
des Konigreichs Bayern, iii. (Munich, 
i^^^^S) pp. 344, 969. 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



149 



is called " the Old Man," is threshed separately and the 
corn ground into meal and baked into a loaf. This loaf is 
believed to possess healing virtue and to bring a blessing ; 
hence none but members of the family may partake of it. 
At Wittichenau, in the district of Hoyerswerda (Silesia), 
when the threshing is ended, some of the straw of " the 
Old Man " is carried to a neighbour who has not yet finished 
his threshing, and the bearer is rewarded with a gratuity.^ 
Among the Germans of the Falkenauer district in West 
Bohemia the man who gives the last stroke at threshing 
gets " the Old Man," a hideous scarecrow, tied on his back. 
If threshing is still proceeding at another farm, he may go 
thither and rid himself of his burden, but must take care 
not to be caught. In this way a farmer who is behind- 
hand with his threshing may receive several such scarecrows, 
and so become the target for many gibes. Among the 
Germans of the Planer district in West Bohemia, the man 
who gives the last stroke at threshing is himself called " the 
Old Man." Similarly at flax-dressing in Silberberg (West 
Bohemia), the woman who is the last to finish her task is 
said to get the Old Man, and a cake baked in human form 
is served up to her at supper."^ The Wends of Saxony say 
of the man who gives the last stroke at threshing that " he 
has struck the Old Man " {won je stareho bit), and he is 
obliged to carry a straw puppet to a neighbour, who 
has not yet finished his threshing, where he throws 
the puppet unobserved over the fence.^ In some parts The Corn- 

r f- 1 1 . iU woman at 

of Sweden, when a stranger woman appears on the threshino^. 
threshing-floor, a flail is put round her body, stalks of 
corn are wound round her neck, a crown of ears is placed 
on her head, and the threshers call out, " Behold the Corn- 
woman." Here the stranger woman, thus suddenly appearing, 
is taken to be the corn-spirit who has just been expelled by 
the flails from the corn-stalks.* In other cases the farmer's 
wife represents the corn-spirit. Thus in the Commune 
of Salign^, Canton de Poiret (Vendue), the farmer's wife, 

1 P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch unci (Prague, 1905), pp. 193, 194, 197. 
Volksglatibe in Schlesien (Le\Y>s\c, 1903- ^ R. Wuttke, SdchsiscJie Volkskitndi'^ 
1906), ii. 67. (Dresden, 1901), p. 360. 

2 A. John, Sitte, Branch unci * W. Mannhardt, Mytliologische 
Volksglauhe im dentscheii IVestbohiiie/i Forschiingeti, p. 336. 



ISO CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

along with the last sheaf, is tied up in a sheet, placed on a 
litter, and carried to the threshing machine, under which 
she is shoved. Then the woman is drawn out and the 
sheaf is threshed by itself, but the woman is tossed in 
the sheet, as if she were being winnowed.^ It would be 
impossible to express more clearly the identification of the 
woman with the corn than by this graphic imitation of 
threshing and winnowing her. Mitigated forms of the 
custom are observed in various places. Thus among the 
Germans of Schuttarschen in West Bohemia it was customary 
at the close of the threshing to " throttle " the farmer's wife 
by squeezing her neck between the arms of a flail till she 
consented to bake a special kind of cake called a driscJiala 
(from dreschen, " to thresh ")} A similar custom of " thrott- 
ling " the farmer's wife at the threshing is practised in some 
parts of Bavaria, only there the pressure is applied by means 
of a straw rope instead of a flail.^ 
The corn- In these customs the spirit of the ripe corn is regarded 

child at ^ as old, or at least as of mature age. Hence the names of 
harvest. Mother, Grandmother, Old Woman, and so forth. But in 
other cases the corn-spirit is conceived as young. Thus at 
Saldern, near Wolfenbuttel, when the rye has been reaped, 
three sheaves are tied together with a rope so as to make a 
puppet with the corn ears for a head. This puppet is called 
the Maiden or the Corn-maiden [Kornjunfer).^ Sometimes 
the corn-spirit is conceived as a child who is separated 
from its mother by the stroke of the sickle. This last 
view appears in the Polish custom of calling out to 
the man who cuts the last handful of corn, "You 
have cut the navel-string."^ In some districts of West 
Prussia the figure made out of the last sheaf is called 
the Bastard, and a boy is wrapt up in it. The woman who 
binds the last sheaf and represents the Corn-mother is told 
that she is about to be brought to bed ; she cries like a 
woman in travail, and an old woman in the character of 

1 Ibid. p. 336 ; W. Mannhardt, (Strasburg, 1900), p. 437. 

Baumkultus, p. 612. * A. Kuhn, Sagen, Gehrduche und 

'^ A. John, Si/te, Brauch und AfdrcAen atis lVes(fa/en (Leipsic, iS^g), 

Volksglaiibe im dejitscken Westbolwien ii. 184 .c^., § 5^5- 

(Prague, 1905), p. 194. " W. Mannhardt, Die Kornddmonen 

3 E. H. Meyer, Badisches Volksleben (Berlin, 1S68), p. 28. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 151 

grandmother acts as midwife. At last a cry is raised that 
the child is born ; whereupon the boy who is tied up in the 
sheaf whimpers and squalls like an infant. The grand- 
mother wraps a sack, in imitation of swaddling bands, round 
the pretended baby, who is carried joyfully to the barn, lest 
he should catch cold in the open air.^ In other parts of North 
Germany the last sheaf, or the puppet made out of it, is 
called the Child, the Harvest-Child, and so on, and they 
call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, "you are 
getting the child." ^ 

In the north of England, particularly in the counties of The last 
Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, the last corn cut caiied^the 
on the field at harvest is or used to be variously known »'^^^. the 
as the inell or the kirn, of which kern and churn are merely the churn 
local or dialectical variations. The corn so cut is either '" various 

r 1-1 parts of 

plaited or made up into a doll-like figure, which goes by England, 
the name of the mell-doll or the kirn-doll, or the kirn-baby, 
and is brought home with rejoicings at the end of the 
harvest.^ In the North Riding of Yorkshire the last sheaf 
gathered in is called the Mell-sheaf, and the expression 
" We've gotten wer mell " is as much as to say " The 
Harvest is finished." Formerly a Mell-doll was made out of 
a sheaf of corn decked with flowers and wrapped in such of 
the reapers' garments as could be spared. It was carried with 
music and dancing to the scene of the harvest-supper, which 
was called the mell-supper.* In the north of Yorkshire 

1 W. Mannhardt, I.e. as it was formerly in England ; the 

2 W. Mannhardt, I.e. only woman wiio sold dolls in Hawick 
2 Joseph Wright, English Dialect early in the [nineieenth] century, and 

Dictionary, vol. i. (London, 1898) whose toy-shop all bairns knew, was 

p. 605 s.v. "Churn"; id., vol. iii. known as 'Betty o' the Babs,' Betty 

(London, 1902) p. 453 s.v. "Kirn"; of the dolls." 

id. vol. iv. (London, 1903) pp. 82 sq. * W. Henderson, Folk-lore of the 

Sir James Murray, editor of the New Northern Coutilies of Etigland {Lot\Aov\, 

English Dictionary, kindly informs me 1879), pp. 88 sq. ; M. C. F. Morris, 

that the popular etymology which Yorkshire Folk-talk, pp. 2 12 -2 14. 

identifies kern or kirn in this sense with Compare F. Grose, Provincial Glossary 

corn is entirely mistaken; and that (London, \?>\\), s.v. " Mell-supper " ; 

"baby" or "babbie" in the same J. Brand, Poptilar Antiquities, ii. 

phrase means only "doll," not z"] sqq., Bohn's edition; The Denham 

"infant." He writes, "Kirn-babbie Tracts, edited by Dr. James Hardy 

does not mean 'corn-baby,' but (London, 1892-1895), ii. 2 sq. The 

merely kirn-doll, harvest - home doll. sheaf out of which the Mell-doll was 

Bab, babbie was even in my youth the made was no doubt the Mell-sheaf, 

regular name for ' doll ' in the district, though this is not expressly said. Dr. 



152 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

the mell-sheaf " was frequently made of such dimensions 
as to be a heavy load for a man, and, within a few years 
comparatively, was proposed as the prize to be won in a 
race of old women. In other cases it was carefully preserved 
and set up in some conspicuous place in the farmhouse." ^ 
Where the last sheaf of corn cut was called the kirn or 
kern instead of the mell, the customs concerned with it seem 
to have been essentially similar. Thus we are told that 
in the north it was common for the reapers, on the last day 
of the reaping, " to have a contention for superiority in 
quickness of dispatch, groups of three or four taking each a 
ridge, and striving which should soonest get to its termina- 
tion. In Scotland, this was called a kemping, which simply 
means a striving. In the north of England, it was a mell. 
... As the reapers went on during the last day, they took 
care to leave a good handful of the grain uncut, but laid 
down flat, and covered over ; and, when the field was done, 
the 'bonniest lass' was allowed to cut this final handful, 
which was presently dressed up with various sewings, tyings, 
and trimmings, like a doll, and hailed as a Corn Baby. It 
was brought home in triumph, with music of fiddles and 
bagpipes, was set up conspicuously that night at supper, 
and was usually preserved in the farmer's parlour for the 
remainder of the year. The bonny lass who cut this hand- 
ful of grain was deemed the Har'st Queen!' ^ To cut the 
last portion of standing corn in the harvest field was known 
as " to get the kirn " or " to win the kirn " ; and as soon as 
this was done the reapers let the neighbours know that the 
harvest was finished by giving three cheers, which was 

Joseph Wright, editor of The English expression ' ' Corn Baby " used by the 

Dialect Dictionary, kindly informs me writer is probably his interpretation of 

that the word ?nell is well known in the correct expression ki>-n or kertt 

these senses in all the northern counties baby. See above, p. 1 5 1 , note 3. It is 

of England down to Cheshire. He not clear whether the account refers to 

tells me that the proposals to connect England or Scotland. Compare F. 

;«£'// with " meal " or with "maiden" Grose, Provincial Glossary (London 

(through a form like the German xZw), s.v. "Kern-baby," "an image 

Alddel) are inadmissible. dressed up with corn, carried before the 

1 Joseph Wright, The English reapers to their mell-supper, or harvest- 
Dialect Dictionary, vol. iv. (London, Y^oxa^^'' •,].'&x2cn^, Popular Antiquities, 
1903)5.7/. " Mell," p. 83. ii. 20; W. Henderson, Folk-lore of 

2 R. Chambers, The Book of Days the Northern Counties of England. 
(Edinburgh, 1886), ii. 377 sij. The p. 87. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 153 

called "to cry or shout the kirn." ^ Where the last handful The^terw 
of standinj^ corn was called the churn, the stalks were f^' "^^ 

^ ' tnrowing 

roughly plaited together, and the reapers threw their sickles sickles at it. 

at it till some one cut it through, which was called " cutting 

the churn." The severed churn (that is, the plaited corn) was 

then placed over the kitchen door or over the hob in the 

chimney for good luck, and as a charm against witchcraft.^ 

In Kent the Ivy Girl is, or used to be, " a figure composed 

of some of the best corn the field produces, and made as well 

as they can into a human shape ; this is afterwards curiously 

dressed by the women, and adorned with paper trimmings, 

cut to resemble a cap, ruffles, handkerchief, etc., of the finest 

lace. It is brought home with the last load of corn from the 

field upon the waggon, and they suppose entitles them to a 

supper at the expense of the employer." ^ 

In some parts of Scotland, as well as in the north of Eng- The last 
land, the last handful of corn cut on the harvest-field was called '^Ti"^^"! 

' _ _ called the 

the kirn, and the person who carried it off was said "to win the kim in 

kirn." It was then dressed up like a child's doll and went by 0° 5^0^"'* 

the name of the kirn-baby, the kirn-doll, or the Maiden.* In land. 

Berwickshire down to about the middle of the nineteenth 

century there was an eager competition among the reapers 

to cut the last bunch of standing corn. They gathered 

round it at a little distance and threw their sickles in turn 

at it, and the man who succeeded in cutting it through gave 

it to the girl he preferred. She made the corn so cut into 

a kirn-dolly and dressed it, and the doll was then taken to 

the farmhouse and hung up there till the next harvest, when 

its place was taken by the new kirn-dolly.^ At Spottiswoode The kim 

(Westruther Parish) in Berwickshire the reaping of the last reapers 

corn at harvest was called " cutting the Queen " almost as blindfold. 

as often as " cutting the kirn." The mode of cutting it was 

not by throwing sickles. One of the reapers consented to 

be blindfolded, and having been given a sickle in his hand 

^ Joseph Wright, The English 21 sq. 
Dialect Dictionary, iii. (London, 1902) * J. Jamieson, Etymological Diction- 

s.v. " Kirn," p. 453. ary of the Scottish Laugtcage, New 

2 Joseph Wright, The English ^^'^'°'' ^^^^^^^ 1879-1882), iii. 42 



Dialect Dictionary, i. (London, 1898) 



sij., s.v. " Kirn. 



g •' • V ) y / 6 j^j|.g_ ^ g Gomme, " A Berwick- 

^' shire Kirn-dolly," Folk-lore, xii. (1901) 

3 J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. p. 215. 



154 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The chum 
in Ireland 
cut by 
throwing 
the sickles 
at it. 



and turned twice or thrice about by his fellows, he was 
bidden to go and cut the kirn. His groping about and 
making wild strokes in the air with his sickle excited much 
hilarity. When he had tired himself out in vain and given 
up the task as hopeless, another reaper was blindfolded and 
pursued the quest, and so on, one after the other, till at last 
the kirn was cut. The successful reaper was tossed up in 
the air with three cheers by his brother harvesters. To 
decorate the room in which the kirn-supper was held at 
Spottiswoode as well as the granary, where the dancing 
took place, two women made kirn-dollies or Queens every 
year ; and many of these rustic effigies of the corn-spirit 
might be seen hanging up together.^ At Lanfine in Ayr- 
shire, down to near the end of the nineteenth century, the 
last bunch of standing corn at harvest was, occasionally at 
least, plaited together, and the reapers tried to cut it by 
throwing their sickles at it ; when they failed in the attempt, 
a woman has been known to run in and sever the stalks at 
a blow. In Dumfriesshire also, within living memory, it 
used to be customary to cut the last standing corn by throw- 
ing the sickles at it.^ 

In the north of Ireland the harvest customs were 
similar, but there, as in some parts of England, the 
last patch of standing corn bore the name of the churUy 
a dialectical variation of kirn. "The custom of 'Winning 
the Churn ' was prevalent all through the counties of Down 
and Antrim fifty years ago. It was carried out at the 
end of the harvest, or reaping the grain, on each farm or 
holding, were it small or large. Oats are the main crop of 
the district, but the custom was the same for other kinds of 
grain. When the reapers had nearly finished the last field 
a handful of the best-grown stalks was selected, carefully 
plaited as it stood, and fastened at the top just under the 
ears to keep the plait in place. Then when all the corn was 
cut from about this, which was known as The C/nivfi, and 
the sheaves about it had been removed to some distance, 
the reapers stood in a group about ten yards off it, and each 



^ Mrs. A. B. Gomme, "Harvest ^ j. q. Frazer, "Notes on Harvest 

Customs," Folk-lore, xiii. (1902) p. Customs," Folk-lore, vii. (1889) p. 
178. 48. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 155 

whirled his sickle at the CJmrn till one lucky one succeeded 
in cutting it down, when he was cheered on his achievement. 
This person had then the right of presenting it to the master 
or mistress of the farm, who gave the reaper a shilling." A 
supper and a dance of the reapers in the farmhouse often 
concluded the day. The Churti^ trimmed and adorned with 
ribbons, was hung up on a wall in the farmhouse and care- 
fully preserved. It was no uncommon sight to see six or 
even twelve or more such Churns decorating the walls of 
a farmhouse in County Down or Antrim.^ 

In some parts of the Highlands of Scotland the last The last 
handful of corn that is cut by the reapers on any particular called the 
farm is called the Maiden, or in Gaelic Maidhdeanbuain, Maiden in 
literally *' the shorn Maiden." Superstitions attach to the i^nds of 
winning of the Maiden. If it is got by a young person, Scotland, 
they think it an omen that he or she will be married before 
another harvest. For that or other reasons there is a strife 
between the reapers as to who shall get the Maiden, and 
they resort to various stratagems for the purpose of securing 
it. One of them, for example, will often leave a handful of 
corn uncut and cover it up with earth to hide it from the 
other reapers, till all the rest of the corn on the field is cut 
down. Several may try to play the same trick, and the one 
who is coolest and holds out longest obtains the coveted 
distinction. When it has been cut, the Maiden is dressed 
with ribbons into a sort of doll and affixed to a wall of 
the farmhouse. In the north of Scotland the Maiden is 
carefully preserved till Yule morning, when it is divided 
among the cattle "to make them thrive all the year round." ^ 
In the island of Mull and some parts of the mainland of 
Argyleshire the last handful of corn cut is called the Maiden 
{Maighdean-Bkiiand}. Near Ardrishaig, in Argyleshire, the 

1 (Rev.) H. W. Lett, "Winning the corn so cut was taken home and kept 

Churn (Ulster)," Folk-lore, xvi. (1905) for some time. 

p. 185. My friend Miss Welsh, ^ ]. ]a.m\esoT\, Dictionary of the Scol- 

formerly Principal of Giiton College, tish Language, New Edition (Paisley, 

Cambridge, told me (30th May 1901) 1879-1882), iii. 206, s.v. "Maiden." 

that she remembers the custom of the An old Scottish name for the Maiden 

churn being observed in the north of {autumnalis ttymphtila) was Rapegyrne. 

Ireland ; the reapers cut the last hand- See Fordun, Scotichrcn. ii. 418, quoted 

ful of standing corn (called the churn) by ]. Jamieson, op. cit. iii. 624, s.v. 

by throwing their sickles at it, and the " Rapeg)'rne." 



156 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The cut- 
ting of the 
Maiden at 
harvest in 
Argyle- 
shire. 



The cut- 
ting of the 
Maiden at 
harvest in 
Perthshire. 



Maiden is made up in a fanciful three-cornered shape, 
decorated with ribbons, and hung from a nail on the wall.^ 

The following account of the Maiden was obtained in 
the summer of 1897 from the manager of a farm near 
Kilmartin in Argyleshire : " The Mhaighdean-Bhuana, or 
Reaping Maiden, was the last sheaf of oats to be cut on 
a croft or farm. Before the reaping-machine and binder 
took the place of the sickle and the scythe, the young 
reapers of both sexes, when they neared the end of the 
last rig or field, used to manoeuvre to gain possession of 
the MhaigJidean-Bhuana. The individual who was fortunate 
enough to obtain it was ex officio entitled to be the King 
or the Queen of the Harvest-Home festival. The sheaf so 
designated was carefully preserved and kept intact until the 
day they began leading home the corn. A tuft of it was 
then given to each of the horses, as they started from the 
corn-field with their first load. The rest of it was neatly made 
up, and hung in some conspicuous corner of the farmhouse, 
where it remained till it was replaced by a younger sister 
next season. On the first day of ploughing a tuft of it 
was given (as on the first day of leading home the corn) as 
a Sainnseal or handsel for luck to the horses. The MhaigJi- 
dean-Bhuana so preserved and used was -a symbol that the 
harvest had been duly secured, and that the spring work 
had been properly inaugurated. It was also believed to 
be a protection against fairies and witchcraft." ^ 

In the parish of Longforgan, situated at the south-eastern 
corner of Perthshire, it used to be customary to give what 
was called the Maiden Feast at the end of the harvest. The 
last handful of corn reaped on the field was called the Maiden, 
and things were generally so arranged that it fell into the 
hands of a pretty girl. It was then decked out with ribbons 
and brought home in triumph to the music of bagpipes and 
fiddles. In the evening the reapers danced and made merry. 
Afterwards the Maiden was dressed out, generally in the 



I 



1 R. C. Maclagan, in Folk-lore, vi. 
(1895) pp. 149, 151. 

2 Rev. M. MacPhail (Free Church 
Manse, Kihnartin, Lochgilphead), 
" P'olk-lore from the Hebrides," Folk- 
lore, \\.{i 900) p. 44 1 . That the Maiden , 



hung up in the house, is thought to keep 
out witches till the next harvest is men- 
tioned also by the Rev. J. G. Campbell, 
Superstitions of the Highlands and 
Islands of Seotland {Gla.sgow, 1900), p. 
20. So with the churn (above, p. 153) 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 157 

form of a cross, and hung up, with the date attached to it, 
in a conspicuous part of the house.^ In the neighbourhood 
of Balquhidder, Perthshire, the last handful of corn is cut 
by the youngest girl on the field, and is made into the rude 
form of a female doll, clad in a paper dress, and decked 
with ribbons. It is called the Maiden, and is kept in the 
farmhouse, generally above the chimney, for a good while, 
sometimes till the Maiden of the next year is brought in. 
The writer of this book witnessed the ceremony of cutting 
the Maiden at Balquhidder in September 1888.^ A lady 
friend ^ informed me that as a young girl she cut the Maiden 
several times at the request of the reapers in the neighbour- 
hood of Perth. The name of the Maiden was given to the 
last handful of standing corn ; a reaper held the top of the 
bunch while she cut it. Afterwards the bunch was plaited, 
decked with ribbons, and hung up in a conspicuous place on 
the wall of the kitchen till the next Maiden was brought in. 
The harvest-supper in this neighbourhood was also called 
the Maiden ; the reapers danced at it. 

In the Highland district of Lochaber dancing and merry- The 
making on the last night of harvest used to be universal and ^rvtsUn' 
are still generally observed. Here, we are told, the festivity Lochaber. 
without the Maiden would be like a wedding without the bride. 
The Maiden is carried home with tumultuous rejoicing, and 
after being suitably decorated is hung up in the barn, where 
the dancing usually takes place. When supper is over, one 
of the company, generally the oldest man present, drinks 
a glass of whisky, after turning to the suspended sheaf 
and saying, " Here's to the Maiden." The company follow 
his example, each in turn drinking to the Maiden. Then 
the dancing begins.* On some farms on the Gareloch, in The cut- 
Dumbartonshire, about the year 1830, the last handful of Maiden at 
standing corn was called the Maiden. It was divided in two, harvest on 

the Gare- 

plaited, and then cut with the sickle by a girl, who, it was loch in 

^ Sir John Sinclair, Statistical ^ The late Mrs. Macalister, wife of tonshire 

Account of Scotland, xix. (Edinburgh, Professor Alexander Macalister, Cam- 

1797); PP- 550 sq. Compare Miss bridge. Her recollections referred 

E. J. Guthrie, Old Scottish Customs especially to the neighbourhood of Glen 

(London and Glasgow, 1S85), pp. Farg, some ten or twelve miles to the 

130 sq. south of Perth. 

2 Folk-lore Journal, vi. ( 1 888) pp. * Rev. James Macdonald, Religion 

268 sq. and Myth (London, 1893), pp. 14 1 sq. 



IS? 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The cut- 
ting of the 
clyack 
sheaf at 
harvest in 
Aberdeen- 
shire. 



The clyack 
sheaf cut 
by the 
youngest 
girl and not 
allowed to 
touch the 
ground. 



thought, would be lucky and would soon be married. When 
it was cut the reapers gathered together and threw their 
sickles in the air. The Maiden was dressed with ribbons 
and hung in the kitchen near the roof, where it was kept for 
several years with the date attached. Sometimes five or six 
Maidens might be seen hanging at once on hooks. The 
harvest-supper was called the Kirn.^ In other farms on the 
Gareloch the last handful of corn was called the Maidenhead 
or the Head ; it was neatly plaited, sometimes decked with 
ribbons, and hung in the kitchen for a year, when the grain 
was given to the poultry." 

In the north-east of Aberdeenshire the customs con- 
nected with the last corn cut at harvest have been carefully 
collected and recorded by the late Rev. Walter Gregor of 
Pitsligo. His account runs as follows : " The last sheaf cut 
is the object of much care : the manner of cutting it, binding 
it, and carrying it to the house varies a little in the different 
districts. The following customs have been reported to me 
by people who have seen them or who have practised them, 
and some of the customs have now disappeared. The 
information comes from the parishes of Pitsligo, Aberdour, 
and Tyrie, situated in the north-east corner of the county of 
Aberdeen, but the customs are not limited to these parishes. 

" Some particulars relating to the sheaf may be noted 
as always the same ; thus {a) it is cut and gathered by the 
youngest person present in the field, the person who is 
supposed to be the purest ; {b) the sheaf is not allowed 
to touch the ground ; {c) it is made up and carried in 
triumph to the house ; {d) it occupies a conspicuous place 
in the festivals which follow the end of the reaping ; {i) it 
is kept till Christmas morning, and is then given to one or 
more of the horses or to the cattle of the farm. 

" Before the introduction of the scythe, the corn was cut 
by the sickle or heuck, a kind of curved sickle. The last 
sheaf was shorn or cut by the youngest girl present. As 
the corn might not touch the ground, the master or ' gueed- 



1 From information supplied by 
Archie Leitch, late gardener to my 
father at Rowmore, Garelochhead. 
The Kirn was the name of the harvest 
festivity in the south of Scotland also. 



See Lockhart's Life of Scott, ii. 184 
(first edition) ; Early Letters of Thomas 
Carlyle, ed. Norton, ii. 325 sq. 

■^ Communicated by the late Mr. 
Macfarlane of Faslane, Gareloch. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 159 

man * sat down, placed the band on his knees, and received 

thereupon each handful as it was cut. The sheaf was bound, 

dressed as a woman, and when it had been brought to the 

house, it was placed in some part of the kitchen, where 

everybody could see it during the meal which followed the 

end of the reaping. This sheaf was called the clyack sheaf ^ 

" The manner of receiving and binding the last sheaf is 

not always the same. Here is another : three persons hold 

the band in their hands, one of them at each end, while the 

third holds the knot in the middle. Each handful of corn 

is placed so that the cut end is turned to the breast of those 

who support the ears on the opposite side. When all is cut, 

the youngest boy ties the knot. Two other bands are 

fastened to the sheaf, one near the cut end, the other near 

the ears. The sheaf is carried to the house by those who 

have helped to cut or bind it (Aberdour). 

"Since the introduction of the scythe, it is the youngest 

boy who cuts the last sheaf; my informant (a woman) told 

me that when he was not strong enough to wield the scythe, 

his hand was guided by another. The youngest girl gathers 

it. When it is bound with three bands, it is cut straight, 

and it is not allowed to touch the ground. The youngest 

girls carry it to the house. My informant (a woman) told 

me that she had seen it decked and placed at the head of 

the bed. Formerly, and still sometimes, there was always a 

bed in the kitchen (Tyrie). 

" The corn is not allowed to fall on the ground : the 

young girls who gather it take it by the ear and convey 

it handful by handful, till the whole sheaf is cut. A woman 

who ' has lost a feather of her wing,' as an old woman put 

it to me, may not touch it Sometimes also they merely 

put the two hands round the sheaf (New Deer). 

"Generally a feast and dance follow when all the wheat '^\\?^ciyack 

is cut. This feast and dance bear the name of clyack or -merfand 

^ A slightly different mode of ground. One of the maidens seated 

making up the clyack sheaf is described herself on the ground, and over her 

by the Rev. Walter Gregor elsewhere knees was the band of the sheaf laid. 

{Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-east Each of the maidens cut a handful, 

of Scotland, London, 1881, pp. 181 or more if necessary, and laid it on 

sq.): "The clyack sheaf was cut by the band. The sheaf was then bound, 

the maidens on the harvest field. On still lying over the maiden's knees, and 

no account was it allowed to touch the dressed up in woman's clothing." 



ale. 



i6o CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

* meal and ale.' However, some people do not give ' meal 
and ale ' till all the cut corn has been got in : then the feast 
is called * the Winter/ and they say that a farmer ' has the 
Winter ' when all his sheaves have been carried home. 

" At this feast two things are indispensable : a cheese 
called the clyack-kebback and ' meal and ale.' 

" The cheese clyack-kebback must be cut by the master of 
the house. The first slice is larger than the rest ; it is known 
by the name of ' the kanaves faangl — the young man's big 
slice — ^and is generally the share of the herd boy (Tyrie). 

" The dish called ' meal and ale ' is made as follows. 
You take a suitable vessel, whether an earthenware pot or 
a milk-bowl, if the crockery is scanty ; but if on the contrary 
the family is well off, they use other special utensils. In 
each dish ale is poured and treacle is added to sweeten 
it. Then oatmeal is mixed with the sweetened ale till the 
whole is of a sufficient consistency. The cook adds whisky 
to the mixture in such proportion as she thinks fit. In each 
plate is put a ring. To allow the meal time to be com- 
pletely absorbed, the dish is prepared on the morning of the 
feast. At the moment of the feast the dish or dishes con- 
taining the strong and savoury mixture are set on the 
middle of the table. But it is not served up till the end. 
Six or seven persons generally have a plate to themselves. 
Each of them plunges his spoon into the plate as fast as 
possible in the hope of getting the ring ; for he who is 
lucky enough to get it will be married within the year. 
Meantime some of the stuff is swallowed, but often in the 
struggle some of it is spilt on the table or the floor. 
The ciyack " In some districts there used to be and still is dancing 

sheaf in jj^ ^^ evening of the feast. 'The sheaf figured in the 

the dance. ° ° 

dances. It was dressed as a girl and carried on the back of 

the mistress of the house to the barn or granary which 

served as a ballroom. The mistress danced a reel with 

'the sheaf on her back. 

The ciyack " The woman who gave me this account had been a 

toTniare" witness of what she described when she was a girl. The 

in foal or shcaf was afterwards carefully stored till the first day of 

in calf. Christmas, when it was given to eat to a mare in foal, if 

there was one on the farm, or, if there was not, to the oldest 



I 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN i6i 

cow in calf. Elsewhere the sheaf was divided between all 
the cows and their calves or between all the horses and 
the cattle of the farm. (Related by an eye-witness.)"^ 

In these Aberdeenshire customs the sanctity attributed Sanctity 
to the last corn cut at harvest is clearly manifested, not ^"th^J^^^'^ 
merely by the ceremony with which it is treated on the dyack 
field, in the house, and in the barn, but also by the great ^ ^^ ' 
care taken to prevent it from touching the ground or being 
handled by any unchaste person. The reason why the 
youngest person on the field, whether a girl or a boy, is 
chosen to cut the last standing corn and sometimes to carry 
it to the house is no doubt a calculation that the younger 
the person the more likely is he or she to be sexually pure. 
We have seen that for this reason some negroes entrust the 
sowing of the seed to very young girls/ and later on we 
shall meet with more evidence in Africa of the notion that 
the corn may be handled only by the pure.^ And in the The sacra- 
gruel of oat-meal and ale, which the harvesters sup with ^^^^ °^ 
spoons as an indispensable part of the harvest supper, have meal and 
we not the Scotch equivalent of the gruel of barley-meal and eLusI^ 
water, flavoured with pennyroyal, which the initiates at Eleusis 
drank as a solemn form of communion with the Barley 
Goddess Demeter ? ^ May not that mystic sacrament have 

1 W. Gregor, " Quelques coutumes naturally be understood of a mare 
du Nord-est du Comte d'Aberdeen," with its foal and a cow with its calf. 
Revue des Traditions populaires, iii. 2 ggg above pp. 1 1 1; so. 
(October, 1888) pp. 484-487 (wrong , „ , , ' , .. 
pagination ; should be 532-535)- This ' ^ee below, vol. u. p. 1 10. 
account, translated into French by M. * The drinking of the draught (called 
Loys Brueyre from the author's English the kvkcwv) as a solemn rite in the 
and translated by me back from French Eleusinian mysteries is mentioned by 
into English, is fuller than the account Clement of Alexandria {Protrept. 21, 
given by the same writer in his Notes p. 18, ed. Potter) and Arnobius {Ad- 
en the Folk-lore of the North-east of versus Nationes, v. 26). The com- 
^SiTO/Zawia? (London, 1881), pp. 181-183. position of the draught is revealed by 
I have translated ^^ uiie jument ay ant the author of the Homeric Hymn to 
son pottlain" by "a mare in foal," Demeter (verses 206-2 1 1), where he 
axiA *' la plus ancie9i77evache ayafit son represents Demeter herself partaking 
veau" by "the oldest cow in calf," of the sacred cup. That the compound 
because in the author's Notes on the was a kind of thick gruel, half-solid, 
Folk-lore of the North-east of Scotland half-liquid, is mentioned by Eustathius 
(p. 182) we read that the last sheaf was (on Homer, Iliad, xi. 638, p. 870). 
" carefully preserved till Christmas or Compare Miss J. E. Harrison, Pro- 
New Year morning. On that morning legomena to the Study of Greek Re- 
it was given to a mare in foal," etc. ligion. Second Edition (Cambridge, 
Otherwise the French words might 1908), pp. 155^^^. 

PT. V. VOL. I M 



1 62 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
bride. 



originated in a simple harvest supper held by Eleusinian 
farmers at the end of the reaping ? 

According to a briefer account of the Aberdeenshire 
custom, " the last sheaf cut, or ' maiden,' is carried home 
in merry procession by the harvesters. It is then pre- 
sented to the mistress of the house, who dresses it up 
to be preserved till the first mare foals. The maiden 
is then taken down and presented to the mare as its 
first food. The neglect of this would have untoward 
effects upon the foal, and disastrous consequences upon farm 
operations generally for the season." ^ In Fifeshire the last 
handful of corn, known as the Maiden, is cut by a young 
girl and made into the rude figure of a doll, tied with ribbons, 
by which it is hung on the wall of the farm-kitchen till the 
next spring.^ The custom of cutting the Maiden at harvest 
was also observed in Inverness-shire and Sutherlandshire.^ 

A somewhat maturer but still youthful age is assigned 
to the corn-spirit by the appellations of Bride, Oats- 
bride, and Wheat-bride, which in Germany are sometimes 
bestowed both on the last sheaf and on the woman who binds 
it.^ At wheat -harvest near Miiglitz, in Moravia, a small 
portion of the wheat is left standing after all the rest has been 
reaped. This remnant is then cut, amid the rejoicing of 
the reapers, by a young girl who wears a wreath of wheaten 
ears on her head and goes by the name of the Wheat-bride. 
It is supposed that she will be a real bride that same year.* 



^ Rev. J. Macdonald, Religion and 
Myth (London, 1893), PP- 14° -J?-, 
from MS. notes of Miss J. Ligertwood. 

2 Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889) p. 
51 ; The Quarterly Review, clxxii. 
(1891) p. 195. 

3 As to Inverness-shire my old friend 
Mr. Hugh E. Cameron, formerly of 
Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire, wrote 
to me many years ago : " As a boy, I 
remember the last bit of corn cut was 
taken home, and neatly tied up with a 
ribbon, and then stuck up on the wall 
above the kitchen fire-place, and there 
it often remained till the ' maiden ' of 
the following year took its place. 
There was no ceremony about it, 
beyond often a struggle as to who 
would get, or cut, the last sheaf to 



select the ' maiden ' from " ( The Folk- 
lore Journal, vii. 1 88 9, pp. 50 sq.). 
As to Sutherlandshire my mother was 
told by a servant, Isabella Ross, that 
in that county " they hang up the 
' maiden ' generally over the mantel- 
piece (chimney-piece) till the next 
harvest. They have always a kirn, 
whipped cream, with often a ring in it, 
and sometimes meal sprinkled over it. 
The girls must all be dressed in lilac 
prints, they all dance, and at twelve 
o'clock they eat potatoes and herrings " 
{op. cit. pp. 53 sq.). 

* W. NIannhardt, Die Komddmonen 
(Berlin, 1868), p. 30. 

^ W. M tiller, Beitrdge zur Volks- 
kunde der Deutschen in Miihren 
(Vienna and Olmiitz, 1893), P- 327- 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 163 

In the upland valley of Alpach, in North Tyrol, the person 
who brings the last sheaf into the granary is said to have 
the Wheat-bride or the Rye- bride according to the crop, 
and is received with great demonstrations of respect and 
rejoicing. The people of the farm go out to meet him, bells 
are rung, and refreshments offered to him on a tray,^ In 
Austrian Silesia a girl is chosen to be the Wheat-bride, and 
much honour is paid to her at the harvest-festival.^ Near 
Roslin and Stonehaven, in Scotland, the last handful of 
corn cut " got the name of ' the bride,' and she was placed 
over the bress or chimney-piece ; she had' a ribbon tied 
below her numerous ears, and another round her waist." ^ 

Sometimes the idea implied by the name of Bride The corn- 
is worked out more fully by representing the productive ^^^^^ ^^ , 
powers of vegetation as bride and bridegroom. Thus Bride- 
in the Vorharz an Oats-man and an Oats-woman, swathed ^°°"- 
in straw, dance at the harvest feast.* In South Saxony 
an Oats-bridegroom and an Oats-bride figure together at 
the harvest celebration. The Oats-bridegroom is a man 
completely wrapt in oats-straw ; the Oats -bride is a man 
dressed in woman's clothes, but not wrapt in straw. 
They are drawn in a waggon to the ale-house, where 
the dance takes place. At the beginning of the dance 
the dancers pluck the bunches of oats one by one from the 
Oats -bridegroom, while he struggles to keep them, till 
at last he is completely stript of them and stands bare, 
exposed to the laughter and jests of the company.^ In 
Austrian Silesia the ceremony of "the Wheat -bride" is 
celebrated by the young people at the end of the harvest. 
The woman who bound the last sheaf plays the part of the 
Wheat-bride, wearing the harvest-crown of wheat ears and 
flowers on her head. Thus adorned, standing beside her 
Bridegroom in a waggon and attended by bridesmaids, she 
is drawn by a pair of oxen, in full imitation of a marriage 

1 J. E. Waldfreund, " Volksge- 3 Mr. R. Matheson, in The Folk- 

brauche und Aberglaube in Tirol und lore Journal, vii. (1889) pp. 49, 50. 

dem Salzburger Gebirg," Zeilschrift * W. Mannhardt, Die Kor?iddmonen 

fiir deiitsche Alythologie und Sitten- (Berlin, 1868), p. 30. 

kunde, iii. (1855) p. 340. ^ E. Sommer, Sageii, Mdrchen una 

^ Th. Vernaleken, Mythen und Gebrduche aus Sachsen U7id Thiiringen 

Brauche des Volkes in Oesterreich (Halle, 1846), pp. 160 sq. ; W. Mann- 

(\'ienna, 1859), p. 310. hardt, I.e. 



1 64 



CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 



The corn- 
spirit in 
the double 
form of the 
Old Wife 
and the 
Maiden 
simultane- 
ously at 
harvest in 
the High- 
lands of 
Scotland. 



procession, to the tavern, where the dancing is kept up till 
morning. Somewhat later in the season the wedding of the 
Oats-bride is celebrated with the like rustic pomp. About 
Neisse, in Silesia, an Oats-king and an Oats-queen, dressed 
up quaintly as a bridal pair, are seated on a harrow and 
drawn by oxen into the village.^ 

In these last instances the corn-spirit is personified in 
double form as male and female. But sometimes the spirit 
appears in a double female form as both old and young, 
corresponding exactly to the Greek Demeter and Persephone, 
if my interpretation of these goddesses is right. We have 
seen that in Scotland, especially among the Gaelic-speaking 
population, the last corn cut is sometimes called the Old 
Wife and sometimes the Maiden. Now there are parts 
of Scotland in which both an Old Wife iCailleacK) and a 
Maiden are cut at harvest. As the accounts of this 
custom are not quite clear and consistent, it may be well 
to give them first in the words of the original authorities. 
Thus the late Sheriff Alexander Nicolson tells us that 
there is a Gaelic proverb, " A balk {l^um-iochd) in autumn is 
better than a sheaf the more " ; and he explains it by saying 
that a leum-iochd or balk " is a strip of a corn-field left 
fallow. The fear of being left with the last sheaf of the 
harvest, called the cailleach, or gobhar bhacach, always led to 
an exciting competition among the reapers in the last field. 
The reaper who came on a leum-iochd would of course be 
glad to have so much the less to cut." ^ In further explana- 
tion of the proverb the writer adds : 

" The customs as to the Cailleach and Maighdean-bhuana 
seem to have varied somewhat. Two reapers were usually 
set to each rig, and according to one account, the man who 
was first done got the Maighdean-bhuana or ' Reaping- 
Maiden,' while the man who was last got the Cailleach or 
' old woman.' The latter term is used in Argyleshire ; the 
term Gobhar-bhacach, the lame goat, is used in Skye. 

" According to what appears to be the better version, the 



1 W. Mannhardt, I.e.-, E. Peter, ^ Alexander Nicolson, A Collection 

Volksthiimliches aus Osterreichisch- of Gaelic Proverbs and Familiar 

Schlesien (Troppau, 1865-1867), ii. Phrases, based on Macintosh'' s Collection 

269. (Edinburgh and London, 1 88 1 ), p. 248. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 165 

competition to avoid the Cailleach was not between reapers but 
between neighbouring crofters, and the man who got his 
harvest done first sent a handful of corn called the Cailleach 
to his neighbour, who passed it on, till it landed with him 
who was latest. That man's penalty was to provide for the 
dearth of the township, gort a' bhaile, in the ensuing season. 
" The Maighdean-bhuana, again, was the last cut hand- 
ful of oats, on a croft or farm, and was an object of lively 
competition among the reapers. It was tastefully tied 
up with ribbons, generally dressed like a doll, and then 
hung up on a nail till spring. On the first day of plough- 
ing it was solemnly taken down, and given as a Sainnseal 
(or handsel) to the horses for luck. It was meant as a sym- 
bol that the harvest had been secured, and to ward off the 
fairies, representatives of the ethereal and unsubstantial, till 
the time came to provide for a new crop." ^ Again, the 
Rev. Mr. Campbell of Kilchrenan, on Loch Awe, furnished Dr. 
R. C. Maclagan with the following account of the Highland 
customs at harvest. The recollections of Mrs. MacCorquodale, 
then resident at Kilchrenan, refer to the customs practised 
about the middle of the nineteenth century in the wild 
and gloomy valley of Glencoe, infamous in history for 
the treacherous massacre perpetrated there by the Govern- 
ment troops in 1692. "Mrs. MacCorquodale says that 
the rivalry was for the Maiden, and for the privilege she 
gave of sending the Cailleach to the next neighbour. 
The Maiden was represented by the last stalks reaped ; 
the Cailleach by a handful taken at random from the 
field, perhaps the last rig of the reaper last to finish. The 
Cailleach was not dressed but carried after binding to 
the neighbour's field. The Maiden was cut in the following 
manner. All the reapers gathered round her and kept a 
short distance from her. They then threw their hooks 
[sickles] at her. The person successful in cutting her down 
in this manner was the man whose possession she became. 
Mrs. MacCorquodale understood that the man of a township 
who got the Cailleach finally was supposed to be doomed to 
poverty for his want of energy. (Gaelic : treiibhantas — 
valour.) 

^ A. Nicolson, op. cit. pp. 415 sq. 



1 66 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

" A sample of the toast to the Cailleach at the harvest 
entertainment was as follows : ' The Cailleach is with . . . 
and is now with (me) since I was the last. I drink to her 
health. Since she assisted me in harvest, it is likely that it 
is with me she will abide during the winter.' In explaining 
the above toast Mr. Campbell says that it signifies that the 
Cailleach is always with agriculturists. ' She has been with 
others before and is now with me (the proposer of the toast). 
Though I did my best to avoid her I welcome her as my 
assistant, and am prepared to entertain her during the winter.' 
Another form of the toast was as follows : ' To your health, 
good wife, who for harvest has come to help us, and if I live 
I'll try to support you when winter comes.' 

" John MacCorquodale, Kilchrenan, says that at Crian- 
larich in Strath Fillan, they make a Cailleach of sticks and 
a turnip, old clothes and a pipe. In this case the o.'i'^^y 
passed in succession to seven farms, which he mentioned, and 
finally settled with an innkeeper. The list suggested that 
the upper farms stood a bad chance, and perhaps that a 
prosperous innkeeper could more easily bear up against the 
reproach and loss ij) of supporting the Cailleach. 

" Duncan Maclntyre, Kilchrenan, says that in one case 
where the last field to be reaped was the most fertile land on 
the farm, the corn first cut in it, which was taken near the edge, 
was reserved to make a Cailleach, should the owner be so 
happy as to be able to pass her on to his neighbour. The 
last blades cut were generally in the middle or best part of 
the field. These in any event became the Maiden." Lastly, 
Dr. Maclagan observes that " having directed the attention 
of Miss Kerr, Port Charlotte, Islay, to the practice of having 
two difTerent bunches on the mainland of Argyle, she informs 
me that in Islay and Kintyre the last handful is the Cailleach, 
and they have no Maiden. The same is the custom in Ber- 
nara and other parts of the Western Isles, while in Mull the 
last handful is the Maiden, and they have no Cailleach. In 
North Uist the habit still prevails of putting the Cailleach 
over-night among the standing corn of lazy crofters." ^ 

The general rule to which these various accounts point 

^ R. C. Maclagan, " Corn -maiden in Argyleshire," Folk-lore, vii. (1896) 
pp. ■]% sq. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 167 

seems to be that, where both a Maiden and an Old Wife in these 
iCailleacJi) are fashioned out of the reaped corn at harvest, the the^oid 
Maiden is ahvays made out of the last stalks left standing, and Wiferepre- 
is kept by the farmer on whose land it was cut ; while the Old qi^ corn of 
Wife is made out of other stalks, sometimes out of the first i^st year, 
stalks cut, and is regularly passed on to a laggard farmer Maiden the 
who happens to be still reaping after his brisker neighbour new com 
has cut all his corn. Thus while each farmer keeps his own year. 
Maiden, as the embodiment of the young and fruitful spirit 
of the corn, he passes on the Old Wife as soon as he can to 
a neighbour, and so the old lady may make the round of all 
the farms in the district before she finds a place in which to 
lay her venerable head. The farmer with whom she finally 
takes up her abode is of course the one who has been the last 
of all the countryside to finish reaping his crops, and thus the 
distinction of entertaining her is rather an invidious one. 
Similarly we saw that in Pembrokeshire, where the last corn 
cut is called, not the Maiden, but the Hag, she is passed on 
hastily to a neighbour who is still at work in his fields and 
who receives his aged visitor with anything but a transport 
of joy. If the Old Wife represents the corn-spirit of the 
past year, as she probably does wherever she is contrasted 
with and opposed to a Maiden, it is natural enough that 
her faded charms should have less attractions for the hus- 
bandman than the buxom form of her daughter, who may 
be expected to become in her turn the mother of the golden 
grain when the revolving year has brought round another 
autumn. The same desire to get rid of the effete Mother 
of the Corn by palming her off on other people comes out 
clearly in some of the customs observed at the close of 
threshing, particularly in the practice of passing on a hideous 
straw puppet to a neighbour farmer who is still threshing 
his corn.^ 

The harvest customs just described are strikingly analo- Analogy of 
gous to the spring customs which we reviewed in the first customsTo 
part of this work, (i) As in the spring customs the tree- the spring 
spirit is represented both by a tree and by a person,^ so in Europe. 

^ See above, p. 149, where, how- 2 See The Magic Art and the Evo- 

ever, the coin-spirit is conceived as an lution of Kings, ii. 73 sgq. 
Old Man. 



i68 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap. 

the harvest customs the corn-spirit is represented both by 
the last sheaf and by the person who cuts or binds or 
threshes it. The equivalence of the person to the sheaf is 
shewn by giving him or her the same name as the sheaf ; by 
wrapping him or her in it ; and by the rule observed in 
some places, that when the sheaf is called the Mother, it 
must be made up into human shape by the oldest married 
woman, but that when it is called the Maiden, it must be 
cut by the youngest girl.^ Here the age of the personal 
representative of the corn-spirit corresponds with that of the 
supposed age of the corn-spirit, just as the human victims 
offered by the Mexicans to promote the growth of the maize 
varied with the age of the maize.^ For in the Mexican, as 
in the European, custom the human beings were probably 
representatives of the corn-spirit rather than victims offered 
to it. (2) Again, the same fertilising influence which the 
tree-spirit is supposed to exert over vegetation, cattle, and 
even women ^ is ascribed to the corn-spirit. Thus, its sup- 
posed influence on vegetation is shewn by the practice of 
taking some of the grain of the last sheaf (in which the 
corn-spirit is regularly supposed to be present), and scattering 
it among the young corn in spring or mixing it with the 
seed-corn.^ Its influence on animals is shewn by giving the 
last sheaf to a mare in foal, to a cow in calf, and to horses 
at the first ploughing.^ Lastly, its influence on women is 
indicated by the custom of delivering the Mother-sheaf, made 
into the likeness of a pregnant woman, to the farmer's wife ; ^ 
by the belief that the woman who binds the last sheaf will 
have a child next year ; '^ perhaps, too, by the idea that the 
person who gets it will soon be married.^ 
The spring Plainly, therefore, these spring and harvest customs are 

andharvest i^^ggfj ^^ |.j^g Same ancient modes of thought, and form parts 

customs of & ' ir 

Europe are of the Same primitive heathendom, which was doubtless 
pdmit'ive^ practised by our forefathers long before the dawn of history. 

heathen \ Above, pp. 134, 137, 138 sq., ^ See above, p. 135. 

''^2^'Set^below ^'''^'2^'^' ' ^^°^'^' P- ^4.5- Compare A. 

, ^, -, .' "/■ -^ , ^Z ^ , . Kuhn, Sasren, Gebrmiche nnd Mdrcheit 

^ The Magic Art and the Evolution ^^^^ Westfalen (Leipsic, 1S59), ii. p. 

ofKzrtg^,^x.^Tsqq. 185, §516. 

* Above, pp. 134, 135. J' s J 

s Above, pp. 141, 155, 156, 158, * Above, pp. 136, 139, 155, 157 

160 sq., 162, 165. sq., 162; compare p. 160. 



ritual. 



V CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN 169 

Amongst the marks of a primitive ritual we may note the 
following : — 

1. No special class of persons is set apart for the per- Marks of a 
formance of the rites ; in other words, there are no priests. ruJ^r^'^ 
The rites may be performed by any one, as occasion demands. 

2. No special places are set apart for the performance 
of the rites ; in other words, there are no temples. The 
rites may be performed anywhere, as occasion demands. 

3. Spirits, not gods, are recognised, {a) As distin- 
guished from gods, spirits are restricted in their operations 
to definite departments of nature. Their names are general, 
not proper. Their attributes are generic, rather than indi- 
vidual ; in other words, there is an indefinite number of 
spirits of each class, and the individuals of a class are all 
much alike ; they have no definitely marked individuality ; 
no accepted traditions are current as to their origin, life, 
adventures, and character, {h) On the other hand gods, as 
distinguished from spirits, are not restricted to definite 
departments of nature. It is true that there is generally 
some one department over which they preside as their 
special province ; but they are not rigorously confined to it ; 
they can exert their power for good or evil in many other 
spheres of nature and life. Again, they bear individual or 
proper names, such as Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus ; and 
their individual characters and histories are fixed by current 
myths and the representations of art. 

4. The rites are magical rather than propitiatory. 
In other words, the desired objects are attained, not by 
propitiating the favour of divine beings through sacrifice, 
prayer, and praise, but by ceremonies which, as I have already 
explained,^ are believed to influence the course of nature 
directly through a physical sympathy or resemblance between 
the rite and the effect which it is the intention of the rite 
to produce. 

Judged by these tests, the spring and harvest customs of Reasons 
our European peasantry deserve to rank as primitive. For [^^'j^^^'^^" 
no special class of persons and no special places are set spring and 
exclusively apart for their performance ; they may be per- ^usuj^i's of 
formed by any one, master or man, mistress or maid, boy or modem 

^ The Alagic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i. 220 sqq. 



I70 CORN-MOTHER AND CORN-MAIDEN chap, v 

Europe as girl ; they are practised, not in temples or churches, but in 
aprimitive ^^ woods and mcadows, beside brooks, in barns, on harvest 
fields and cottage floors. The supernatural beings whose 
existence is taken for granted in them are spirits rather than 
deities : their functions are limited to certain well-defined 
departments of nature : their names are general, like the 
Barley-mother, the Old Woman, the Maiden, not proper 
names like Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus. Their generic 
attributes are known, but their individual histories and 
characters are not the subject of myths. For they exist in 
classes rather than as individuals, and the members of each 
class are indistinguishable. For example, every farm has its 
Corn-mother, or its Old Woman, or its Maiden ; but every 
Corn-mother is much like every other Corn-mother, and so 
with the Old Women and Maidens. Lastly, in these harvest, 
as in the spring customs, the ritual is magical rather than 
propitiatory. This is shewn by throwing the Corn-mother 
into the river in order to secure rain and dew for the 
crops ;^ by making the Old Woman heavy in order to get 
a heavy crop next year ; ^ by strewing grain from the last 
sheaf amongst the young crops in spring ; ^ and by giving 
the last sheaf to the cattle to make them thrive.* 

1 Above, p. 146. The common 134, 137, 143, 144, 145 ; Adonis, 

custom of wetting the last sheaf and Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, pp. 

its bearer is no doubt also a rain- 195-197- 

charm; indeed the intention to pro- 2 Above, pp. i^^sq., 138, 139, 152. 

cure rain or make the corn grow is ^ Above, p. 134. 

sometimes avowed. See above, pp. * Above, pp. 134, 155, 158, 161. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 

§ I. The Corn-mother iii America 

European peoples, ancient and modern, have not been The Corn- 
singular in personifying the corn as a mother goddess. The ™°'^^'" '" 
same simple idea has suggested itself to other agricultural lands. 
races in distant parts of the world, and has been applied by 
them to other indigenous cereals than barley and wheat. If 
Europe has its Wheat -mother and its Barley- mother, 
America has its Maize- mother and the East Indies their 
Rice-mother. These personifications I will now illustrate, 
beginning with the American personification of the maize. 

We have seen that among European peoples it is a common The Maize 
custom to keep the plaited corn-stalks of the last sheaf, or the '"°''i*^'' 

i^ r J among the 

puppet which is formed out of them, in the farm-house from Peruvian 
harvest to harvest.^ The intention no doubt is, or rather origin- 
ally was, by preserving the representative of the corn-spirit 
to maintain the spirit itself in life and activity throughout 
the year, in order that the corn may grow and the crops be 
good. This interpretation of the custom is at all events ren- 
dered highly probable by a similar custom observed by the 
ancient Peruvians, and thus described by the old Spanish 
historian Acosta : — " They take a certain portion of the most 
fruitful of the maize that grows in their farms, the which 
they put in a certain granary which they do call Pirua, 
with certain ceremonies, watching three nights ; they put 
this maize in the richest garments they have, and being 
thus wrapped and dressed, they worship this Pirun, and hold 

^ Above, pp. 136, 138, 140, 143, W. Mannhardt, Die Kornddmonen, 
152, 153. 154, 155' 156, 157, 158: pp. 7, 26. 

171 



172 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



The Maize- 
mother, the 
Quinoa- 
mother, 
the Coca- 
mother, 
and the 
Potato- 
mother 
among the 
Peruvian 
Indians. 



it in great veneration, saying it is the mother of the maize of 
their inheritances, and that by this means the maize augments 
and is preserved. In this month [the sixth month, answer- 
ing to May] they make a particular sacrifice, and the witches 
demand of this Ph^ua if it hath strength sufficient to con- 
tinue until the next year ; and if it answers no, then they 
carry this maize to the farm to burn, whence they brought 
it, according to every man's power ; then they make another 
Pima, with the same ceremonies, saying that they renew it, 
to the end the seed of maize may not perish, and if it 
answers that it hath force sufficient to last longer, they leave 
it until the next year. This foolish vanity continueth to 
this day, and it is very common amongst the Indians to 
have these Piruas." ^ 

In this description of the custom there seems to be 
some error. Probably it was the dressed-up bunch of 
maize, not the granary {Pirud), which was worshipped 
by the Peruvians and regarded as the Mother of the 
Maize. This is confirmed by what we know of the Peruvian 
custom from another source. The Peruvians, we are told, 
believed all useful plants to be animated by a divine being 
who causes their growth. According to the particular plant, 
these divine beings were called the Maize-mother {Zara- 
mama), the Quinoa-mother {Quinoa-mama), the Coca-mother 
{Coca-inavia), and the Potato-mother {Axo-niania). Figures 
of these divine mothers were made respectively of ears of 
maize and leaves of the quinoa and coca plants ; they were 
dressed in women's clothes and worshipped. Thus the 
Maize-mother was represented by a puppet made of stalks of 
maize dressed in full female attire ; and the Indians believed 
that " as mother, it had the power of producing and giving 
birth to much maize." ^ Probably, therefore, Acosta mis- 



^ J. <le Acosta, Natural and Moral 
History of the Indies, bk. v. ch. 28, 
vol. ii. p. 374 (Hakluyt Society, 
London, 1880). In quoting the pass- 
age I have modernised the spelling. 
The original Spanish text of Acosta's 
work was reprinted in a convenient 
form at Madrid in 1894. See vol. ii. 
p. 117 of that edition. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Mylhohgischc 



Forschiingen, pp. 342 sq. Mann- 
hardt's authority is a Spanish tract 
( Carta pastorale de exo>-tacion e iiistrnc- 
cion contra las idolatrias de los Indies 
del ar^obispado de Lima) by Pedro de 
Villagomez, Archbishop of Lima, 
published at Lima in 1649, and com- 
municated to Mannhardt by J- /• 
V. Tschudi. The Carta Pastorale itself 
seems to be partly based on an earlier 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN AMERICA 



173 



understood his informant, and the Mother of the Maize which 
he describes was not the granary (Pirua), but the bunch of 
maize dressed in rich vestments. The Peruvian Mother of 
the Maize, Hke the harvest-Maiden at Balquhidder, was kept 
for a year in order that by her means the corn might grow 
and multiply. But lest her strength might not suffice to last 



work, the Extirpacion de la Idolatria 
del Piru. Dirigido al Key N.S. eii 
Su real conseio de Indias, por el Padre 
Pablo Joseph de Arriaga de la Com- 
pafiia de Jesus (Lima, 1621). A copy 
of this work is possessed by the British 
Museum, where I consulted it. The 
writer explains (p. 16) that the Maize- 
mothers {Zaramamas) are of three 
sorts, namely (i) those which are 
made of maize stalks, dressed up like 
women, (2) those which are carved of 
stone in the likeness of cobs of maize, 
and (3) those which consist simply of 
fruitful stalks of maize or of two 
maize-cobs naturally joined together. 
These last, the writer tells us, were the 
principal Za7'atna?nas, and were revered 
by the natives as Mothers of the Maize. 
Similarly, when two potatoes were 
found growing together the Indians 
called them Potato - mothers (Axo- 
mamas) and kept them in order to 
get a good crop of potatoes. As 
Arriaga's work is rare, it may be well 
to give his account of the Maize- 
mothers, Coca-mothers, and Potato- 
mothers in his own words. He says 
(p. 16): '■'■ Zarainamas, son de tres 
maneras, y son las qtie se quentan entre 
las cosas halladas en los pueblos. La 
pn-imera es tma como mutieca hecha de 
cahas de maiz, vestida como muger con 
su anaco, y llicilla, y sus topos de 
plafa, y entienden, que como madre 
tiene vh'tud de engendrar, y pa?-ir 
mucho maiz. A este viodo tienen 
tambieii Cocamamas para augmento de 
la coca. Otras son de piedra labradas 
como choclos, mazorcas de maiz, con sus 
p-anos relevados, y de estas suelen tener 
muchas en higar de Conopas [household 
gods]. Otras son algutias canasje7-tiles 
de maiz, que con la Jertilidad de la 
tierra dieron muchas macorcas, y 
gratides, o qtiando sale7t dos macorcas 
juntas, y estas son las principales, 
Zaramamas, y assi las reveretician 



como a madres del maiz, a estas llaman 
tambien Htiantayzai-a, Ayrihuayzara. 
A este tercer genero no le dan la 
adoracion que a Huaca, ni Conopa, 
sino que le tienen supersticiosamente 
como una cosa sag>-ada, y colgando 
estas canas con tnuchos choclos de unos 
ramos de sauce bailen con ellas el bayle, 
que llaman Ayj-ihua, y acabado el 
bayle, las queman, y sacrijican a Libiac 
para que les de buena cosecha. Con 
la misma supersticion guardan las 
mazorcas del maiz, que salen muy 
pintadas, que llaman Micsazara, 
Mantayzara, o Caullazara, y otros que 
Hainan Piruazai-a, que son otras 
macorcas en que van subiendo los 
granos no derechos sino haziendo 
carcuol. Estas Micsazara, Pirua- 
zai-a, ponen supersticiosamente en los 
montones de maiz, y en las Piruas (que 
son dofide guardan el maiz) paraque se 
las guarde, y el dia de las exhibiciones 
se Junta tanto de estas mazorcas, que 
tienen bien que comer las mulas. La 
misma supersticion tienen con las que 
llama?t Axomamas, que son qtiando 
salen algunas papas juntas, y las 
guardan para tener buena cosecha de 
papas.'''' The exhibiciones 'Wtx^xtitxt^^ 
to are the occasions when the Indians 
brought forth their idols and other 
relics of superstition and delivered 
them to the ecclesiastical visitors. 
At Tarija in Bolivia, down to the 
present time, a cross is set up at 
harvest in the maize-fields, and on it 
all maize - spadices growing as twins 
are hung. They are called Pacha- 
mamas (Earth-mothers) and are thought 
to bring good harvests. See Baron 
E. Nordenskiold, "Travels on the 
Boundaries of Bolivia and Argentina," 
The Geographical Journal, xxi. (1903) 
PP- 5i7> 518. Compare E. J. PajTie, 
History oj the New World called 
America (O.xford, 1892), i. 414 sq. 



174 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



Customs of 
the ancient 
Mexicans 
at the 
maize- 
harvesl. 



till the next harvest, she was asked in the course of the 
year how she felt, and if she answered that she felt weak, she 
was burned and a fresh Mother of the Maize made, " to the 
end the seed of maize may not perish." Here, it may be 
observed, we have a strong confirmation of the explanation 
already given of the custom of killing the god, both periodic- 
ally and occasionally. The Mother of the Maize was 
allowed, as a rule, to live through a year, that being the 
period during which her strength might reasonably be sup- 
posed to last unimpaired ; but on any symptom of her 
strength failing she was put to death, and a fresh and vigorous 
Mother of the Maize took her place, lest the maize which 
depended on her for its existence should languish and decay. 
Hardly less clearly does the same train of thought come 
out in the harvest customs formerly observed by the Zapotecs 
of Mexico. At harvest the priests, attended by the nobles 
and people, went in procession to the maize fields, where they 
picked out the largest and finest sheaf This they took 
with great ceremony to the town or village, and placed it in 
the temple upon an altar adorned with wild flowers. After 
sacrificing to the harvest god, the priests carefully wrapped 
up the sheaf in fine linen and kept it till seed-time. Then 
the priests and nobles met again at the temple, one of them 
bringing the skin of a wild beast, elaborately ornamented, in 
which the linen cloth containing the sheaf was enveloped. 
The sheaf was then carried once more in procession to the 
field from which it had been taken. Here a small cavity or 
subterranean chamber had been prepared, -in which the 
precious sheaf was deposited, wrapt in its various envelopes. 
After sacrifice had been offered to the gods of the fields for 
an abundant crop the chamber was closed and covered over 
with earth. Immediately thereafter the sowing began. 
Finally, when the time of harvest drew near, the buried sheaf 
was solemnly disinterred by the priests, who distributed the 
grain to all who asked for it. The packets of grain so dis- 
tributed were carefully preserved as talismans till the harvest.^ 
In these ceremonies, which continued to be annually cele- 



' Brasseur de Boiirbourg, Hisloire 
des Nations civilises du Mexique et de 
C Anti^riqiie Centrale (Patis, 1857- 



1859), iii. 40 sqq. Compare id., iii. 
505 sq. ; E. J. Payne, History of the 
New IVorld failed America, i. 419 sq. 



J 



VI THE CORN-MOTHER IN AMERICA 175 

brated long after the Spanish conquest, the intention of keep- 
ing the finest sheaf buried in the maize field from seed-time 
to harvest was undoubtedly to quicken the growth of the 
maize. 

A fuller and to some extent different account of the Sahagun's 
ancient Mexican worship of the maize has been given us fheancLm 
by the Franciscan monk Bernardino de Sahagun, who arrived Mexican 
in Mexico in 1529, only eight years after its conquest by '°'°"' 
the Spaniards, and devoted the remaining sixty-one years 
of his long life to labouring among the Indians for their 
moral and spiritual good. Uniting the curiosity of a 
scientific enquirer to the zeal of a missionary, and adorning 
both qualities with the humanity and benevolence of a 
good man, he obtained from the oldest and most learned 
of the Indians accounts of their ancient customs and beliefs, 
and embodied them in a work which, for combined interest 
of matter and fulness of detail, has perhaps never been 
equalled in the records of aboriginal peoples brought into 
contact with European civilisation. This great document, 
after lying neglected in the dust of Spanish archives for cen- 
turies, was discovered and published almost simultaneously 
in Mexico and England in the first half of the nineteenth 
century. It exists in the double form of an Aztec text and 
a Spanish translation, both due to Sahagun himself Only 
the Spanish version has hitherto been published in full, but 
the original Aztec text, to judge by the l&w extracts of it 
which have been edited and translated, appears to furnish 
much more ample details on many points, and in the interest 
of learning it is greatly to be desired that a complete edition 
and translation of it should be given to the world. 

Fortunately, among the sections of this great work which Sahaguns 
have been edited and translated from the Aztec original into of^th"'^''°" 
German by Professor Eduard Seler of Berlin is a long one Mexican 
describing the religious festivals of the ancient Mexican goddess 
calendar.^ From it we learn some valuable particulars as to and her 

festival. 

^ E. Seler, " Altmexikanische of the Mexican gods, has been edited 

Studien, ii.," Veroffentlichungen aiis and translated into German by Pro- 

dem kiviiglicken Mitseum fiir Volker- fessor E. Seler in the same series 

kundc, vi. (Berlin, 1899) 2/4 Heft, of publications ("Altmexikanische 

pp. 67 sqq. Another chapter of Studien," Veroffentlichungen aus dent 

Sahagun'swork,describing the costumes kduiglichen Museum fiir Volkerkunde, 



176 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

the worship of the Maize-goddess and the ceremonies observed 
by the Mexicans for the purpose of ensuring a good crop 
of maize. The festival was the fourth of the Aztec year, 
and went by the name of the Great Vigil. It fell on a date 
which corresponds to the seventh of April. The name of 
the Maize-goddess was Chicome couatl, and the Mexicans 
conceived and represented her in the form of a woman, red 
in face and arms and legs, wearing a paper crown dyed 
vermilion, and clad in garments of the hue of ripe cherries. 
No doubt the red colour of the goddess and her garments 
referred to the deep orange hue of the ripe maize ; it was 
like the yellow hair of the Greek corn-goddess Demeter. 
She was supposed to make all kinds of maize, beans, and 
vegetables to grow. On the day of the festival the Mexicans 
sent out to the maize-fields and fetched from every field 
a plant of maize, which they brought to their houses and 
greeted as their maize - gods, setting them up in their 
dwellings, clothing them in garments, and placing food 
before them. And after sunset they carried the maize- 
plants to the temple of the Maize-goddess, where they 
snatched them from one another and fought and struck 
each other with them. Further, at this festival they brought 
to the temple of the Maize-goddess the maize-cobs which 
were to be used in the sowing. The cobs were carried by 
three maidens in bundles of seven wrapt in red paper. One 
of the girls was small with short hair, another was older 
with long hair hanging down, and the third was full-grown 
with her hair wound round her head. Red feathers were 
gummed to the arms and legs of the three maidens and 
their faces were painted, probably to resemble the red 
Maize-goddess, whom they may be supposed to have 
personated at various stages of the growth of the corn. 
The maize-cobs which they brought to the temple of the 
Maize-goddess were called by the name of the Maize-god 
Cinteotl, and they were afterwards deposited in the granary 

i. 4 (Berlin, 1890) pp. 1 17 sqq.). R. P. Fi-ay Bernardino de Sahagtin, 

Sahagun's work as a whole is known Paris, 1 880). As to the life and 

to me only in the excellent French character of Sahagun see M. R. 

translation of Messrs. D. Jourdanet Simeon's introduction to the transla- 

and R. Simeon (Hisfoire Ghiirale des tion, pp. vii. sqq. 
choses de la NouveUe-Espagne par le 



VI THE CORN-MOTHER IN AMERICA 177 

and kept there as " the heart of the granary " till the sowing 
time came round, when they were used as seed.^ 

The eastern Indians of North America, who subsisted The Corn- 
to a larcre extent by the cultivation of maize, crenerally '"°^'^'^' 

o J ' & ^ among the 

conceived the spirit of the maize as a woman, and supposed North 
that the plant itself had sprung originally from the blood i,[dfanT" 
drops or the dead body of the Corn Woman. In the sacred 
formulas of the Cherokee the corn is sometimes invoked as 
"the Old Woman," and one of their myths relates how a 
hunter saw a fair woman issue from a single green stalk of 
corn." The Iroquois believe the Spirit of the Corn, the 
Spirit of Beans, and the Spirit of Squashes to be three 
sisters clad in the leaves of their respective plants, very fond 
of each other, and delighting to dwell together. This divine 
trinity is known by the name of De-o-ha-ko, which means 
" Our Life " or " Our Supporters." The three persons of 
the trinity have no individual names, and are never 
mentioned separately except by means of description. The 
Indians have a legend that of old the corn was easily 
cultivated, yielded abundantly, and had a grain exceedingly 
rich in oil, till the Evil One, envious of this good gift of 
the Great Spirit to man, went forth into the fields and 
blighted them. And still, when the wind rustles in the 
corn, the pious Indian fancies he hears the Spirit of the 
Corn bemoaning her blighted fruitfulness.^ The Huichol 
Indians of Mexico imagine maize to be a little girl, who 
may sometimes be heard weeping in the fields ; so afraid 
is she of the wild beasts that eat the corn.* 

^ B. de Sahagun, Aztec text of book of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 

ii., translated by Professor E. Seler, Part I. (Washington, 1900) pp. 423, 

" Altmexikanische Studien, ii.," 432. '$,&e.{^xx\!ae.x Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 

Verdffentlichnngen aus dem k'dniglichen Second Edition, pp. 296 sq. 

Museum fUr Volkerkunde, vi. 2/4 Heft „_ - ., 

,T-, ,. o ^ 00 -ri. ^ L. H. Morgan, Leasrue of the 

(Berlin, 1899), pp. 188-194. The ^ • /t> u . o, 1 ^, 

V ' ^='" ^^ . 7^ . . Iroqziois (Rochester, 1851), pp. 161 

account of the ceremonies given in the ^ ^ . ,.' ^ -"^ ," y 

„ . , . r c 1. > 1 • sq., 199. According to the Iroquois 

Spanish version of Sahagun s work is a ^? 1 .. r ..i, u 

^ , , , o T> J the corn plant sprang from the bosom 

good deal more summary. See B. de , . f, / , ^ ^ ry ■ -^ r^ 

° , TT- , ■ ^f , 7 J 7. of the mother of the Great Spirit after 

Sahasjun, Histotre Geiierale aes choses . i_ • 1 /t tt tvt ^ -^ 

J 1 -KT ij T- J. /n • ,oo^\ her burial (L. H. Morgan, op. cit. 

de la Nouvelle Espame (Pans, 1880), ^ \ b ■> r 

pp. 94-96. ^ ^^ 

2 J. Mooney, " Myths of the * C. Lumholtz, Unknotvn Mexico 

Cherokee,'" Nineteenth Annual Report (London, 1903), ii. 280. 



PT. V. VOL. I 



178 l^HE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

S 2. The Mother-cotton in the Punjaub 

The In the Punjaub, to the east of the Jumna, when the 

^°*'^^''; cotton boles be^in to burst, it is usual to select the largest 

cotton in & ' t3 

the plant in the field, sprinkle it with butter-milk and rice-water, 

Punjaub. ^^^ ^^^ \i\n6. to it pieces of cotton taken from the other 
plants of the field. This selected plant is called Sirdar or 
Bhogaldal, that is " mother-cotton," from bhogla, a name 
sometimes given to a large cotton-pod, and dai (for daiyd), 
" a mother," and after it has been saluted, prayers are 
offered that the other plants may resemble it in the richness 
of their produce.^ 

S 3. The Barley Bride among the Berbers 

The Barley The Conception of the corn-spirit as a bride seems 

^"^"^^ , to come out clearly in a ceremony still practised by 

among the ■' j i. j 

Berbers. the Berbers near Tangier, in Morocco. When the women 
assemble in the fields to weed the green barley or reap the 
crops, they take with them a straw figure dressed like a 
woman, and set it up among the corn. Suddenly a group of 
horsemen from a neighbouring village gallops up and carries 
off the straw puppet amid the screams and cries of the women. 
However, the ravished ^^gy is rescued by another band of 
mounted men, and after a struggle it remains, more or less 
dishevelled, in the hands of the women. That this pretended 
abduction is a mimic marriage appears from a Berber 
custom in accordance with which, at a real wedding, the 
bridegroom carries off his seemingly unwilling bride on horse- 
back, while she screams and pretends to summon her friends 
to her rescue. No fixed date is appointed for the simulated 
abduction of the straw woman from the barley-field, the time 
depends upon the state of the crops, but the day and hour 
are made public before the event. Each village used to prac- 
tise this mimic contest for possession of the straw woman, 
who probably represents the Barley Bride, but nowadays the 
custom is growing obsolete.'^ 

1 H. M. Elliot, Supplemental Glos- - W. B. Harris, "The Berbers of 

sary of Terms used in the North- West- Morocco," Journal of the A7it/iro- 

ern Provinces, edited by J. Beames pological Institu.'e, xxvii. (189S) p. 

(London, 1869), i. 254. 68. 



VI THE BARLEY BRIDE AMONG THE BERBERS 179 

An earlier account of what seems to be the same practice Another 
runs as follows : " There is a curious custom which seems to ^^'^Q""' ^^ 

. the Barley 

be a relic of their pagan masters, who made this and the Bride 
adjoining regions of North Africa the main granary of their BTrbefs'^^ 
Latin empire. When the young corn has sprung up, which 
it does about the middle of February, the women of the 
villages make up the figure of a female, the size of a very 
large doll, which they dress in the gaudiest fashion they can 
contrive, covering it with ornaments to which all in the 
village contribute something ; and they give it a tall, peaked 
head-dress. This image they carry in procession round 
their fields, screaming and singing a peculiar ditty. The 
doll is borne by the foremost woman, who must yield it to 
any one who is quick enough to take the lead of her, which 
is the cause of much racing and squabbling. The men also 
have a similar custom, which they perform on horseback. 
They call the image Mata. These ceremonies are said by 
the people to bring good luck. Their efficacy ought to be 
great, for you frequently see crowds of men engaged in 
their performances running and galloping recklessly over the 
young crops of wheat and barley. Such customs are 
directly opposed to the faith of Islam, and I never met with 
a Moor who could in any way enlighten me as to their 
origin. The Berber tribes, the most ancient race now 
remaining in these regions, to which they give the name, are 
the only ones which retain this antique usage, and it is 
viewed by the Arabs and dwellers in the town as a remnant 
of idolatry." ^ We may conjecture that this gaudily dressed 
effigy of a female, which the Berber women carry about 
their fields when the corn is sprouting, represents the Corn- 
mother, and that the procession is designed to promote the 
growth of the crops by imparting to them the quickening 
influence of the goddess. We can therefore understand why Competi- 
there should be a competition among the women for the [J^°"^ ^^'^ 
possession of the effigy ; each woman probably hopes to session of 
secure for herself and her crops a larger measure of fertility thatrewe- 
by appropriating the image of the Corn - mother. The sents the 
competition on horseback among the men is no doubt to be mother 

^ Sir John Drummond Hay, Western Animals (1844), p. 9, quoted in Folk- 
Barbary, its Wild Tribes and Savage lore, vii. (1896) pp. 306 sq. 



i8o 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



explained similarly ; they, too, race with each other in their 
eagerness to possess themselves of an effigy, perhaps of a 
male power of the corn, by whose help they expect to pro- 
cure a heavy crop. Such contests for possession of the 
corn-spirit embodied in the corn-stalks are common, as we 
have seen, among the reapers on the harvest fields of 
Europe. Perhaps they help to explain some of the contests 
in the Eleusinian games, among which horse-races as well as 
foot-races were included.^ 



Compari- 
son of the 
European 
ritual of 
the corn 
with the 
Indonesian 
ritual of 
the rice. 



The Indo- 
nesian 
ritual of 
the rice is 
based on 
the belief 
that the 
rice is 
animated 
by a soul. 



8 4. The Rice-mother in the East Indies 

If the reader still feels any doubts as to the meaning 
of the harvest customs which have been practised within 
living memory by European peasants, these doubts may 
perhaps be dispelled by comparing the customs observed at 
the rice-harvest by the Malays and Dyaks of the East Indies. 
For these Eastern peoples have not, like our peasantry, 
advanced beyond the intellectual stage at which the customs 
originated ; their theory and their practice are still in 
unison ; for them the quaint rites which in Europe have 
long dwindled into mere fossils, the pastime of clowns and 
the puzzle of the learned, are still living realities of which 
they can render an intelligible and truthful account. Hence 
a study of their beliefs and usages concerning the rice may 
throw some light on the true meaning of the ritual of the 
corn in ancient Greece and modern Europe. 

Now the whole of the ritual which the Malays and 
Dyaks observe in connexion with the rice is founded on the 
simple conception of the rice as animated by a soul like 
that which these people attribute to mankind. They explain 
the phenomena of reproduction, growth, decay and death in 
the rice on the same principles on which they explain the 
corresponding phenomena in human beings. They imagine 
that in the fibres of the plant, as in the body of a man, 
there is a certain vital element, which is so far independent 
of the plant that it may for a time be completely separated 
from it without fatal effects, though if its absence be 
prolonged beyond certain limits the plant will wither and 

^ See above, pp. 70 sqq. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES i8i 

die. This vital yet separable element is what, for the want 
of a better word, we must call the soul of a plant, just as a 
similar vital and separable element is commonly supposed 
to constitute the soul of man ; and on this theory or myth 
of the plant-soul is built the whole worship of the cereals, 
just as on the theory or myth of the human soul is built 
the whole worship of the dead, — a towering superstructure 
reared on a slender and precarious foundation. 

The strict parallelism between the Indonesian ideas Parallelism 
about the soul of man and the soul of rice is well brought !f*T^" 

fc> the human 

out by Mr. R. J. Wilkinson in the following passage : " The soui and 
spirit of life, — which, according to the ancient Indonesian soui?^^* 
belief, existed in all things, even in what we should now 
consider inanimate objects — is known as the semangat. It 
was not a ' soul ' in the modern English sense, since it was 
not the exclusive possession of mankind, its separation from 
the body did not necessarily mean death, and its nature may 
possibly not have been considered immortal. At the present 
day, if a Malay feels faint, he will describe his condition by 
saying that his ' spirit of life ' is weak or is ' flying ' from his 
body ; he sometimes appeals to it to return : ' Hither, hither, 
bird of my soul.' Or again, if a Malay lover wishes to 
influence the mind of a girl, he may seek to obtain control 
of her semangat, for he believes that this spirit of active and 
vigorous life must quit the body when the body sleeps and 
so be liable to capture by the use of magic arts. It is, 
however, in the ceremonies connected with the so-called 
' spirit of the rice-crops ' that the peculiar characteristics of 
the semangat come out most clearly. The Malay considers 
it essential that the spirit of life should not depart from the 
rice intended for next year's sowing as otherwise the dead 
seed would fail to produce any crop whatever. He, there- 
fore, approaches the standing rice-crops at harvest-time in a 
deprecatory manner ; he addresses them in endearing terms ; 
he offers propitiatory sacrifices ; he fears that he may scare 
away the timorous ' bird of life ' by the sight of a weapon or 
the least sign of violence. He must reap the seed-rice, but 
he does it with a knife of peculiar shape, such that the cruel 
blade is hidden away beneath the reaper's fingers and does 
not alarm the ' soul of the rice.' When once the seed-rice 



i82 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

has been harvested, more expeditious reaping-tools may be 
employed, since it is clearly unnecessary to retain the spirit 
of life in grain that is only intended for the cooking-pot. 
Similar rites attend all the processes of rice-cultivation — the 
sowing and the planting-out as well as the harvest, — for at 
each of these stages there is a risk that the vitality of the 
crop may be ruined if the bird of life is scared away. In 
the language used by the high-priests of these very ancient 
ceremonies we constantly find references to Sri (the Hindu 
Goddess of the Crops), to the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, 
and to Adam who, according to Moslem tradition, was the 
first planter of cereals ; — many of these references only 
represent the attempts of the conservative Malays to make 
their old religions harmonize with later beliefs. Beneath 
successive layers of religious veneer, we see the animism of 
the old Indonesians, the theory of a bird-spirit of life, and 
the characteristic view that the best protection against evil 
lies in gentleness and courtesy to all animate and inanimate 
things." ^ 
The soul- " It is a familiar fact," says another eminent authority on 

the East Indies, " that the Indonesian imagines rice to be 
animated, to be provided with ' soul-stuff,' Since rice is 
everywhere cultivated in the Indian Archipelago, and 
with some exceptions is the staple food, we need not 
wonder that the Indonesian conceives the rice to be not 
merely animated in the ordinary sense but to be possessed 
of a soul-stuff which in strength and dignity ranks with that 
of man. Thus the Bataks apply the same word tondi to 
the soul-stuff of rice and the soul-stuff of human beings. 
Whereas the Dyaks of Poelopetak give the name of gana to 
the soul-stuff of things, animals, and plants, they give the 
name of hanibaruan to the soul-stuff of rice as well as of 

^ R. J. Wilkinson (of the Civil Ser- forming and vanishes after harvest, 

vice of the Federated Malay States), Hence no one may drive away, much 

Malay Beliefs (London and Leyden, less kill, these birds ; to do so would 

1906), pp. 49-51. On the conception not only injure the crop, the sacrilegious 

of the soul as a bird, see Taboo and the wretch himself would suffer from sick- 

Perils of the Soul, pp. 33 sqq. The ness, which might end in blindness. 

Toradjas of Central Celebes think that See A. C. Kruyt, "De Rijstmoeder 

the soul of the rice is embodied in a in den Indischen Archipel," p. 374 

pretty little blue bird, which builds its (see the full reference in the next 

nest in the rice-field when the ears are note). 



stuff of 
rice. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 183 

man. So also the inhabitants of Halmahera call the soul- 
stuff of things and plants giki and duhutu, but in men and 
food they recognise a guruini. Of the Javanese, Malays, 
Macassars, Buginese, and the inhabitants of the island of 
Buru we know that they ascribe a sumatige, sumangat, or 
sefiiangat to rice as well as to men. So it is with the 
Toradjas of Central Celebes ; while they manifestly conceive 
all things and plants as animated, they attribute a tanoana 
or soul-stuff only to men, animals, and rice. It need hardly 
be said that this custom originates in the very high value 
that is set on rice." ^ 

Believing the rice to be animated by a soul like that Rice 
of a man, the Indonesians naturally treat it with the j^y ^^^^ ^n- 
deference and the consideration which they shew to their donesians 
fellows. Thus they behave towards the rice in bloom as ^^ere a 
they behave towards a pregnant woman ; they abstain from woman, 
firing guns or making loud noises in the field, lest they 
should so frighten the soul of the rice that it would mis- 
carry and bear no grain ; and for the same reason they will 
not talk of corpses or demons in the rice-fields. Moreover, 
they feed the blooming rice with foods of various kinds 
which are believed to be wholesome for women with child ; 
but when the rice-ears are just beginning to form, they are 
looked upon as infants, and women go through the fields 
feeding them with rice-pap as if they were human babes.^ 
In such natural and obvious comparisons of the breeding 
plant to a breeding woman, and of the young grain to a 
young child, is to be sought the origin of the kindred Greek 

1 A. C. Kruyt, " De Rijstmoeder in stuff " rather than of " a soul," because, 

den Indischen Archipel," Verslagen en according to him, in living beings the 

Mededeelii7gende7-koninklijke Akademie animating principle is conceived, not 

van iVetensc happen, Afdeeling Letter- as a tiny being confined to a single 

kunde, Vierde Reeks, v. part 4 (Am- part of the body, but as a sort of fluid 

sterdam, 1903), pp. 361 sq. This or ether diffused through every part of 

essay (pp. 361-41 1 ) contains a valuable the body. See his work, Het Atii- 

collection of facts relating to what the misine in den Indischen Archipel (The 

writer calls the Rice-mother in the Hague, 1906), pp. I sqq. In the 

East Indies. But it is to be observed latter work (pp. 145-150) the writer 

that while all the Indonesian peoples gives a more summary account of the 

seem to treat a certain portion of the Indonesian theory of the rice-soul, 
rice at harvest with superstitious respect ^ See The Magic Art and the Evolu- 

and ceremony, only a part of them tion of Kings , \\. 28 j-^. ; A. C. Kru\t, 

actually call it "the Rice-mother." " De Rijstmoeder," ^/. r/A pp. 363 5^y., 

Mr. Kruyt prefers to speak of "soul- 31 o sqq. 



1 84 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

conception of the Corn -mother and the Corn -daughter, 
Demeter and Persephone, and we need not go further afield 
to search for it in a primitive division of labour between the 
sexes.^ But if the timorous feminine soul of the rice can be 
frightened into a miscarriage even by loud noises, it is easy 
to imagine what her feelings must be at harvest, when 
people are under the sad necessity of cutting down the rice 
with the knife. At so critical a season every precaution 
must be used to render the necessary surgical operation of 
reaping as inconspicuous and as painless as possible. For 
that reason, as we have seen,^ the reaping of the seed-rice is 
done with knives of a peculiar pattern, such that the blades 
are hidden in the reapers' hands and do not frighten the rice- 
spirit till the very last moment, when her head is swept off 
almost before she is aware ; and from a like delicate motive 
the reapers at work in the fields employ a special form of 
speech, which the rice-spirit cannot be expected to under- 
stand, so that she has no warning or inkling of what is 
going forward till the heads of rice are safely deposited in 
the basket.^ 
The Among the Indonesian peoples who thus personify the 

^f^Borneo ^^^^ ^^ "^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ Kayaus or Bahaus of Central Borneo as 
their treat- typical. As we have already seen, they are essentially an 
thrsoui of agricultural people devoted to the cultivation of rice, which 
the rice. furnishcs their staple food ; their religion is deeply coloured 
by this main occupation of their lives, and it presents many 
analogies to the Eleusinian worship of the corn-goddesses 
Demeter and Persephone.^ And just as the Greeks regarded 
corn as a gift of the goddess Demeter, so the Kayans 
believe that rice, maize, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and all the 
other products of the earth which they cultivate, were 
originally created for their benefit by the spirits.^ 
instru- In order to secure and detain the volatile soul of the 

^jy jjjg rice the Kayans resort to a number of devices. Among the 
Kayans for instruments employed for this purpose are a miniature 
pose of ladder, a spatula, and a basket containing hooks, thorns, and 

1 See above, pp. 113 sqq. Rijstmoeder," op. cit. p. 372, 

2 See above, p. 181. * See above, pp. 92 sqq. 

3 See Taboo and the Perils of the " A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Qtier diirch 
Soul, pp. 411 sq. ; A. C. Kruyt, " De Borneo ["Le^ydtn, 1904-1907),!. 157 J^. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 185 

cords. With the spatula the priestess strokes the soul of catching 

the rice down the little ladder into the basket, where it is ^"^1 detain- 
ing the 
naturally held fast by the hooks, the thorn, and the cord ; soul of 

and having thus captured and imprisoned the soul she *^^ ""^^ 

conveys it into the rice-granary. Sometimes a bamboo box 

and a net are used for the same purpose. And in order to 

ensure a good harvest for the following year it is necessary 

not only to detain the soul of all the grains of rice which 

are safely stored in the granary, but also to attract and 

recover the soul of all the rice that has been lost through 

falling to the earth or being eaten by deer, apes, and pigs. 

For this purpose instruments of various sorts have been 

invented by the priests. One, for example, is a bamboo 

vessel provided with four hooks made from the wood of a 

fruit-tree, by means of which the absent rice-soul may be 

hooked and drawn back into the vessel, which is then hung 

up in the house. Sometimes two hands carved out of the 

wood of a fruit-tree are used for the same purpose. And Cere- 

every time that a Kayan housewife fetches rice from the performed 

granary for the use of her household, she must propitiate by Kayan 

the souls of the rice in the granary, lest they should be at fetching 

angry at being robbed of their substance. To keep them "'^^ f™™ 

. ^ ■' ^ . ^ the barn. 

in good humour a bundle of shavings of a fruit-tree and 
a little basket are always hung in the granary. An &^^ 
and a small vessel containing the juice of sugar-cane are 
attached as offerings to the bundle of shavings, and the 
basket contains a sacred mat, which is used at fetching the 
rice. When the housewife comes to fetch rice from the 
granary, she pours juice of the sugar-cane on the &%^, takes 
the sacred mat from the basket, spreads it on the ground, 
lays a stalk of rice on it, and explains to the souls of the 
rice the object of her coming. Then she kneels before the 
mat, mutters some prayers or spells, eats a single grain from 
the rice-stalk, and having restored the various objects to 
their proper place, departs from the granary with the 
requisite amount of rice, satisfied that she has discharged 
her religious duty to the spirits of the rice. At harvest the 
spirits of the rice are propitiated with offerings of food and 
water, which are carried by children to the rice-fields. At 
evening the first rice-stalks which have been cut are solemnly 



i86 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

brought home in a consecrated basket to the beating of a 

gong, and all cats and dogs are driven from the house before 

the basket with its precious contents is brought in.^ 

Mas- Among the Kayans of the Mahakam river in Central 

querade Bomeo the sowing of the rice is immediately preceded by a 

performed ° ... 

by the performance of masked men, which is intended to attract the 
befoTe"^ soul or rather souls of the rice and so to make sure that the 
sowing for harvest will be a good one. The performers represent 
of'attr'act-^ Spirits ; for, believing that spirits are mightier than men, 
ing the the Kayans imagine that they can acquire and exert super- 
the rice. human power by imitating the form and actions of spirits.^ 
To support their assumed character they wear grotesque masks 
with goggle eyes, great teeth, huge ears, and beards of white 
goat's hair, while their bodies are so thickly wrapt up in 
shredded banana-leaves that to the spectator they present 
the appearance of unwieldy masses of green foliage. The 
leader of the band carries a long wooden hook or rather 
crook, the shaft of which is partly whittled into loose 
fluttering shavings. These disguises they don at a 
little distance from the village, then dropping down the 
river in boats they land and march in procession to an open 
space among the houses, where the people, dressed out in all 
their finery, are waiting to witness the performance. Here 
the maskers range themselves in a circle and dance for some 
time under the burning rays of the midday sun, waving their 
arms, shaking and turning their heads, and executing a 
variety of steps to the sound of a gong, which is beaten 
according to a rigidly prescribed rhythm. After the dance 
they form a line, one behind the other, to fetch the vagrant 
soul of the rice from far countries. At the head of the 
procession marches the leader holding high his crook and 
behind him follow all the other masked men in their leafy 
costume, each holding his fellow by the hand. As he 
strides along, the leader makes a motion with his crook 
as if he were hooking something and drawing it to himself, 
and the gesture is imitated by all his followers. What 

^ A. W. Nieuwenhuis, op. at. i. the masked dances and pantomimes of 
I18-121. Compare id.. In Centraal many savage tribes. If that is so, it 
Borneo (Leyden, 1900), i. 154 sqq. shews how deeply the principle of 

imitative m.igic has influenced savage 

■■* A similar belief probably explains religion. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 187 

he is thus catching are the souls of the rice, which 
sometimes wander far away, and by drawing them home 
to the village he is believed to ensure that the seed of 
the rice which is about to be sown will produce a plentiful 
harvest. As the spirits are thought not to possess the 
power of speech, the actors who personate them may not 
utter a word, else they would run the risk of falling down 
dead. The great field of the chief is sown by repre- 
sentatives of all the families, both free and slaves, on the 
day after the masquerade. On the same day the free 
families sacrifice on their fields and begin their sowing on 
one or other of the following days. Every family sets up 
in its field a sacrificial stage or altar, with which the sowers 
must remain in connexion during the time of sowing. 
Therefore no stranger may pass between them and the 
stage ; indeed the Kayans are not allowed to have anything 
to do with strangers in the fields ; above all they may not 
speak with them. If such a thing should accidentally happen, 
the sowing must cease for that day. At the sowing festival, 
but at no other time, Kayan men of the Mahakam river, like 
their brethren of the Mendalam river, amuse themselves 
with spinning tops. For nine days before the masquerade 
takes place the people are bound to observe certain taboos : 
no stranger may enter the village : no villager may pass the 
night out of his own house : they may not hunt, nor pluck 
fruits, nor fish with the casting-net or the drag-net.^ In this 
tribe the proper day for sowing is officially determined by 
a priest from an observation of the sun setting behind the 
hills in a line with two stones which the priest has set up, 
one behind the other. However, the official day often does 
not coincide with the actual day of sowing.^ 

The masquerade thus performed by the Kayans of the Compari- 
Mahakum river before sowing the rice is an instructive Kayan 

example of a religious or rather magical drama acted for masquer- 
1 r ■ , A u -^ ade with 

the express purpose of ensurmg a good crop. As sucn it the 

may be compared to the drama of Demeter and Persephone, Eieusiman 



drama. 



' A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer durch observed at the sowing season by the 

Borneo, i. 322-330. Compare id.. In Kayans of the Mendalam river, see 

Centraal Borneo, i. 185 sq. As to the above, pp. 94 sqq. 
masquerades performed and the taboos ^ a. W. Nieuwenhuis,^/. cit. i. 317. 



i88 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

the Corn-mother and the Corn-maiden, which was annually 
played at the Eleusinian mysteries shortly before the 
autumnal sowing of the corn. If my interpretation of these 
mysteries is correct, the intention of the Greek and of the 
Kayan drama was one and the same. 
Securing At harvest the Dyaks of Northern Borneo have a special 

the soul of fg^g^ j-j-jg object of which is " to secure the soul of the rice, 

the nee ' -" ' 

among the which if not SO detained, the produce of their farms would 
Northern Speedily rot and decay. At sowing time, a little of the 
Borneo. principle of life of the rice, which at every harvest is secured 
by their priests, is planted with their other seeds, and is thus 
propagated and communicated," The mode of securing the 
soul of the rice varies in different tribes. In the Quop district 
the ceremony is performed by the chief priest alone, first in the 
long broad verandah of the common house and afterwards 
in each separate family apartment. As a preparation for 
the ceremony a bamboo altar, decorated with green boughs 
and red and white streamers, is erected in the verandah, 
and presents a very gay appearance. Here the people, old 
and young, assemble, the priestesses dressed in gorgeous 
array and the elder men wearing bright-coloured jackets and 
trousers of purple, yellow, or scarlet hue, while the young 
men and lads beat gongs and drums. When the priest, 
with a bundle of charms in either hand, is observed to be 
gazing earnestly in the air at something invisible to common 
eyes, the band strikes up with redoubled energy, and the 
elderly men in the gay breeches begin to shriek and revolve 
round the altar in the dance. Suddenly the priest starts 
up and makes a rush at the invisible object ; men run to 
him with white cloths, and as he shakes his charms over the 
cloths a few grains of rice fall into them. These grains are 
the soul of the rice ; they are carefully folded up in the 
cloths and laid at the foot of the altar. The same perform- 
ance is afterwards repeated in every family apartment. In 
some tribes the soul of the rice is secured at midnight. Out- 
side the village a lofty altar is erected in an open space 
surrounded by the stately forms of the tropical palms. 
Huge bonfires cast a ruddy glow over the scene and light 
up the dusky but picturesque forms of the Dyaks as they 
move in slow and solemn dance round the altar, some 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 189 

bearing lighted tapers in their hands, others brass salvers 
with offerings of rice, others covered baskets, of which the 
contents are hidden from all but the initiated. The corner- 
posts of the altar are lofty bamboos, whose leafy tops are 
yet green and rustle in the wind ; and from one of them 
a long narrow streamer of white cloth hangs down. Suddenly 
elders and priests rush at this streamer, seize the end of it, 
and amid the crashing music of drums and gongs and the 
yells of the spectators begin dancing and swaying themselves 
backwards and forwards, and to and fro. A priest or elder 
mounts the altar amid the shouts of the bystanders and 
shakes the tall bamboos violently ; and in the midst of all 
this excitement and hubbub small stones, bunches of hair, 
and grains of rice fall at the feet of the dancers, and are 
carefully picked up by watchful attendants. These grains 
are the soul of the rice. The ceremony ends with several 
of the oldest priestesses falling, or pretending to fall, sense- 
less to the ground, where, till they come to themselves, their 
heads are supported and their faces fanned by their younger 
colleagues. At the end of the harvest, when the year's crop 
has been garnered, another feast is held. A pig and fowls 
are killed, and for four days gongs are beaten and dancing 
kept up. For eight days the village is tabooed and no 
stranger may enter it. At this festival the ceremony of 
catching the soul of the rice is repeated to prevent the crop 
from rotting ; and the soul so obtained is mixed with the 
seed-rice of the next year.^ 

The same need of securing the soul of the rice, if the Recalling 
crop is to thrive, is keenly felt by the Karens of Burma, ^j^^ ^°g ° 
When a rice-field does not flourish, they suppose that the among the 
soul (kelah) of the rice is in some way detained from the rice. Burma. 
If the soul cannot be called back, the crop will fail. The 
following formula is used in recalling the kelah (soul) of the 
rice : " O come, ncQ-kelah, come ! Come to the field. Come 
to the rice. With seed of each gender, come. Come from 
the river Kho, come from the river Kaw ; from the place 
where they meet, come. Come from the West, come from 

^ Spenser St. John, Life hi the quoted in H. Ling Roth's Natives of 
Forests of the Far East' (London, Sarawak and British North Borneo 
1863), i. 187, 192 sqq. ; W. Chalmers, (London, 1S96), i. 412-414. 



igo 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 



Securing 
the soul of 
the rice 
in various 
parts of 
Burma. 



the East. From the throat of the bird, from the maw of 
the ape, from the throat of the elephant. Come from the 
sources of rivers and their mouths. Come from the country 
of the Shan and Burman. From the distant kingdoms come. 
From all granaries come. O x\ce.-kelah, come to the rice." ^ 
Among the Taungthu of Upper Burma it is customary, 
when all the rice-fields have been reaped, to make a trail of 
unhusked rice (paddy) and husks all the way from the fields 
to the farm-house in order to guide the spirit or butterfly, 
as they call it, of the rice home to the granary. Care is 
taken that there should be no break in the trail, and the 
butterfly of the rice is invited with loud cries to come to the 
house. Were the spirit of the rice not secured in this 
manner, next year's harvest would be bad.^ Similarly among 
the Cherokee Indians of North America " ca,re was always 
taken to keep a clean trail from the field to the house, so 
that the corn might be encouraged to stay at home and not 
go wandering elsewhere," and " seven ears from the last 
year's crop were always put carefully aside, in order to 
attract the corn, until the new crop was ripened." ^ In Hsa 
Mong Hkam, a native state of Upper Burma, when two men 
work rice-fields in partnership, they take particular care as 
to the division of the grain between them. Each partner 
has a basket made, of which both top and bottom are 
carefully closed with wood to prevent the butterfly spirit of 
the rice from escaping ; for if it were to flutter away, the next 
year's crop would be but poor.* Among the Takings of 
Lower Burma " the last sheaf is larger than the rest ; it is 
brought home separately, usually if not invariably on the 
morning after the remainder of the harvest has been carted 
to the threshing-floor. The cultivators drive out in their 
bullock-cart, taking with them a woman's comb, a looking- 
glass, and a woman's skirt. The sheaf is dressed in the 
skirt, and apparently the form is gone through of presenting 



1 Rev. E. B. Cross, "On the Karens," 
Journal of the American Oriental 
Society, iv. (1854) p. 309. 

2 (Sir) J. G. Scott and J. P. 
Hardiman, Gazetteer of Upper Burma 
and of the Shan States (Rangoon, 
1900-1901), Part i. vol. i. p. 559. 

^ J. Mooney, " Myths of the 



Cherokee," Nineteenth Annual Report 
of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 
Part i. (Washington, 1900) p. 423. 
Compare Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second 
Edition, pp. 296 sq. 

* (Sir) J. G. Scott and J. P. Hardi- 
man, op. cit. Part ii. vol. i. p. 172. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 191 

it with the glass and comb. It is then brought home in 
triumph, the people decking the cart with their silk kerchiefs, 
and cheering and singing the whole way. On their arrival 
home they celebrate the occasion with a feast. Strictly 
speaking the sheaf should be kept apart from the rest of the 
harvest ; owing, however, to the high price of paddy it often 
finds its way to the threshing-floor. Even when this is not 
the case it is rarely tended so carefully as it is said to have 
been in former days, and if not threshed with the remaining 
crop is apt to be eaten by the cattle. So far as I could 
ascertain it had never been the custom to keep it throughout 
the year ; but on the first ploughing of the ensuing season 
there was some ceremony in connection with it. The name 
of the sheaf was Bo?imagyi ; at first I was inclined to fancy 
that this was a contraction of thelinbon ma gyi, ' the old 
woman of the threshing-floor.' There are, however, various 
reasons for discarding this derivation, and I am unable to 
suggest any other." ^ In this custom the personification of 
the last sheaf of rice as a woman comes out clearly in the 
practice of dressing it up in female attire. 

The Corn-mother of our European peasants has her The Rice- 
match in the Rice-mother of the Minangkabauers of among the 
Sumatra. The Minangkabauers definitely attribute a soul M'nang- 
to rice, and will sometimes assert that rice pounded in the Sumatra. 
usual way tastes better than rice ground in a mill, because 
in the mill the body of the rice was so bruised and battered 
that the soul has fled from it Like the Javanese they 
think that the rice is under the special guardianship of a 
female spirit called Saning Sari, who is conceived as so 
closely knit up with the plant that the rice often goes by 
her name, as with the Romans the corn might be called 
Ceres, In particular Saning Sari is represented by certain 
stalks or grains called indoea padi, that is, literally, " Mother 
of Rice," a name that is often given to the guardian spirit 
herself. This so-called Mother of Rice is the occasion of a 
number of ceremonies observed at the planting and harvesting 
of the rice as well as during its preservation in the barn. 

1 From a letter written to me by Furnivall adds that in Upper Burma 
Mr. J. S. Furnivall and dated Pegu the custom of the Bonmagyi sheaf is 
Club, Rangoon, 6/6 [sic). Mr. unknown. 



192 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

The Rice- When the seed of the rice is about to be sown in the 
Miongthe r>ursery or bedding-out ground, where under the wet system 
Minang- of Cultivation it is regularly allowed to sprout before being 
Sumatra. ° transplanted to the fields, the best grains are picked out to 
form the Rice-mother. These are then sown in the middle 
of the bed, and the common seed is planted round about 
them. The state of the Rice-mother is supposed to exert 
the greatest influence on the growth of the rice ; if she 
droops or pines away, the harvest will be bad in consequence. 
The woman who sows the Rice-mother in the nursery lets 
her hair hang loose and afterwards bathes, as a means of 
ensuring an abundant harvest. When the time comes to 
transplant the rice from the nursery to the field, the Rice- 
mother receives a special place either in the middle or in a 
corner of the field, and a prayer or charm is uttered as 
follows : " Saning Sari, may a measure of rice come from a 
stalk of rice and a basketful from a root ; may you be 
frightened neither by lightning nor by passers-by ! Sunshine 
make you glad ; with the storm may you be at peace ; and 
may rain serve to wash your face ! " While the rice is 
growing, the particular plant which was thus treated as the 
Rice-mother is lost sight of; but before harvest another 
Rice-mother is found. When the crop is ripe for cutting, 
the oldest woman of the family or a sorcerer goes out to 
look for her. The first stalks seen to bend under a passing 
breeze are the Rice-mother, and they are tied together but 
not cut until the first-fruits of the field have been carried 
home to serve as a festal meal for the family and their 
friends, nay even for the domestic animals ; since it is Saning 
Sari's pleasure that the beasts also should partake of her 
good gifts. After the meal has been eaten, the Rice-mother 
is fetched home by persons in gay attire, who carry her very 
carefully under an umbrella in a neatly worked bag to the 
barn, where a place in the middle is assigned to her. Every 
one believes that she takes care of the rice in the barn and 
even multiplies it not uncommonly.^ 

1 J. L. van der Toorn, " Het 63-65. In the charm recited at sowing 

animisme bij den Minangkabauer der the Rice -mother in the bed, I have 

Padangsche Bovenlanden,"' Bijdragen translated the Dutch word stoel as 

tot de Taal- Land- en Volkcnkunde van "root," but lam not sure of its precise 

Neder!andsch Indie, xxxix. (1890) pp. meaning in this connexion. It is 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 193 

When the Tomori of Central Celebes are about to plant The Rke- 
the rice, they bury in the field some betel as an offering to '"°^'^^'" 

, among the 

the spirits who cause the rice to grow. Over the spot where Tomori of 
the offering is buried a small floor of wood is laid, and the ^^ ^^' 
family sits on it and consumes betel together as a sort of 
silent prayer or charm to ensure the growth of the crop. 
The rice that is planted round this spot is the last to be 
reaped at harvest. At the commencement of the reaping 
the stalks of this patch of rice are tied together into a sheaf, 
which is called " the Mother of the Rice " {ineno pae), and 
offerings in the shape of rice, fowl's liver, eggs, and other 
things are laid down before it. When all the rest of the 
rice in the field has been reaped, " the Mother of the Rice " 
is cut down and carried with due honour to the rice-barn, 
where it is laid on the floor, and all the other sheaves are 
piled upon it. The Tomori, we are told, regard the Mother 
of the Rice as a special offering made to the rice-spirit 
Omonga, who dwells in the moon. If that spirit is not 
treated with proper respect, for example if the people who 
fetch rice from the barn are not decently clad, he is angry 
and punishes the offenders by eating up twice as much rice 
in the barn as they have taken out of it ; some people have 
heard him smacking his lips in the barn, as he devoured the 
rice. On the other hand the Toradjas of Central Celebes, 
who also practise the custom of the Rice-mother at harvest, 
regard her as the actual mother of the whole harvest, and 
therefore keep her carefully, lest in her absence the garnered 
store of rice should all melt away and disappear.^ Among Special 
the Tomori, as among other Indonesian peoples, reapers at 
work in the field make use of special words which differ among the 
from the terms in ordinary use ; the reason for adopting this 
peculiar form of speech at reaping appears to be, as I have 
already pointed out, a fear of alarming the timid soul of the 
rice by revealing the fate in store for it.^ To the same 

doubtless identical with the English grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de 

agricultural term " to stool," which is Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mede- 

said of a number of stalks sprouting deelingen van wege het Nederlandsihe 

from a single seed, as I learn from Zendelinggenootschap, xliv. (1900) pp. 

my friend Professor W. Somerville of 227, 230 sq. 

Oxford. 2 See Taboo and the Perils of the 

' A. C. Kruijt, " Eenige ethno- Soul, pp. 411 sq. 
PT. V. VOL. I O 



words used 
at reaping 
among tl 
Tomori. 



194 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

motive is perhaps to be ascribed the practice observed 

by the Tomori of asking each other riddles at harvest.^ 

Riddles Similarly among the Alfoors or Toradjas of Poso, in Central 

and stones Celebes, while the people are watching the crops in the fields 

in con- ' *■ *• . , ° *■ ^ 

nexionwith they amuse themselves with asking each other riddles and 

the nee. telling stories, and when any one guesses a riddle aright, the 

whole company cries out, " Let our rice come up, let fat ears 

come up both in the lowlands and on the heights." But all 

the time between harvest and the laying out of new fields 

the asking of riddles and the telling of stories is strictly 

forbidden.^ Thus among these people it seems that the 

asking of riddles is for some reason regarded as a charm 

which may make or mar the crops. 

The Rice- Among some of the Toradjas of Celebes the ceremony 

mother ^f cutting and bringing home the Mother of the Rice 

among the * o o 

Toradjas is observed as follows. When the crop is ripe in the 
of Celebes, f^gj^g^ ^j^g Mother of the Rice {Anrong pare) must be 
fetched before the rest of the harvest is reaped. The 
ceremony is performed on a lucky day by a woman, who 
knows the rites. For three days previously she observes 
certain precautions to prevent the soul {soemangdna dse) of 
the rice from escaping out of the field, as it might be apt to 
do, if it got wind that the reapers with their cruel knives 
were so soon to crop the ripe -ears. With this view she ties 
up a handful of standing stalks of the rice into a bunch in 
each corner of the field, while she recites an invocation 
to the spirits of the rice, bidding them gather in the field 
from the four quarters of the heaven. As a further pre- 
caution she stops the sluices, lest with the outrush of the 
water from the rice-field the sly soul of the rice should make 
good its escape. And she ties knots in the leaves of the 
rice-plants, all to hinder the soul of the rice from running 
away. This she does in the afternoon of three successive 
days. On the morning of the fourth day she comes again 
to the field, sits down in a corner of it, and kisses the rice 
three times, again inviting the souls of the rice to come 
thither and assuring them of her affection and care. Then 

1 A. C. Kruijt, op. at. p. 228. elijk leven van den Poso - Alfoer," 

Alededeelitigen van wege het Ah'deriand- 

2 A. C. Kruijt, " Een en ander sche ZendeHnggcnootschap,-yx\\yi.{\Z()^) 
aangaande het geestelijk en maatschap- pp. 142 sq. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 195 

she cuts the bunch of rice-stalks which she had tied together 
on one of the previous days. The stalks in the bunch must 
be nine in number, and their leaves must be cut with them, 
not thrown away. As she cuts, she may not look about 
her, nor cry out, nor speak to any one, nor be spoken to ; 
but she says to the rice, " The prophet reaps you. I take 
you, but you diminish not ; I hold you in my hand and you 
increase. You are the links of my soul, the support of my 
body, my blessing, my salvation. There is no God but 
God." Then she passes to another corner of the field to 
cut the bunch of standing rice in it with the same ceremony ; 
but before coming to it she stops half way to pluck another 
bunch of five stalks in like manner. Thus from the four 
sides of the field she collects in all fifty-six stalks of rice, 
which together make up the Mother of the Rice {anrong 
pare). Then in a corner of the field she makes a little 
stage and lays the Mother of the Rice on it, with the ears 
turned towards the standing rice and the cut stalks 
towards the dyke which encloses the field. After that she 
binds the fifty-six stalks of the Rice-mother into a sheaf 
with the bark of a particular kind of tree. As she does so, 
she says, " The prophet binds you into a sheaf ; the angel 
increases you ; the awdlli cares for you. We loved and 
cared for each other." Then, after anointing the sheaf and 
fumigating it with incense, she lays it on the little stage. 
On this stage she had previously placed several kinds of 
rice, betel, one or more eggs, sweetmeats, and young coco- 
nuts, all as offerings to the Mother of the Rice, who, if she 
did not receive these attentions, would be offended and visit 
people with sickness or even vanish away altogether. Some- 
times on large farms a fowl is killed and its blood deposited 
in the half of a coco-nut on the stage. The standing rice 
round about the stage is the last of the whole field to be 
reaped. When it has been cut, it is bound up with the 
Mother of the Rice into a single sheaf and carried home. 
Any body may carry the sheaf, but in doing so he or she 
must take care not to let it fall, or the Rice-mother would be 
angry and might disappear.^ 

^ G. Maan, " Eenige mededeelingen Toerateya ten opzichte van den 
omtrent de zeden en gewoonten der rijstbouw," Tijdschrift voor Indische 



196 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



woman 
among the 
Bataks of 
Sumatra. 



The rice Among the Battas or Bataks of Sumatra the rice appears 

personified ^^ y^^ personified as a young unmarried woman rather than 
as a mother. On the first day of reaping the crop only a 
few ears of rice are plucked and made up into a little sheaf. 
After that the reaping may begin, and while it is going 
forward offerings of rice and betel are presented in the 
middle of the field to the spirit of the rice, who is personified 
under the name of Miss Dajang. The offering is accom- 
panied by a common meal shared by the reapers. When 
all the rice has been reaped, threshed and garnered, the little 
sheaf which was first cut is brought in and laid on the top 
of the heap in the granary, together with an &^^ or a stone, 
which is supposed to watch over the rice.^ Though we are 
not told, we may assume that the personified spirit of the 
rice is supposed to be present in the first sheaf cut and in 
that form to keep guard over the rice in the granary. 
Another writer, who has independently described the customs 
of the Karo-Bataks at the rice-harvest, tells us that the largest 
sheaf, which is usually the one first made up, is regarded as 
the seat of the rice-soul and is treated exactly like a person ; 
at the trampling of the paddy to separate the grain from 
the husks the sheaf in question is specially entrusted to 
a girl who has a lucky name, and whose parents are both 
alive.^ 



Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde, xlvi. 
(1903) pp. 330-337. The writer dates 
his article from Tanneteya (in Celebes?), 
but otherwise gives no indication of the 
geographical position of the people he 
describes. A similar omission is com- 
mon with Dutch writers on the 
geography and ethnology of the East 
Indies, who too often appear to assume 
that the uncouth names of these bar- 
barous tribes and obscure hamlets are as 
familiar to European readers as Amster- 
dam or the Hague. The Toerateyas 
whose customs Mr. Maan describes in 
this article are the inland inhabitants 
of Celebes. Their name Toerateyas or 
Toradjas signifies simply "inlanders" 
and is applied to them by their neigh- 
bours who live nearer the sea ; it is 
not a name used by the people them- 
selves. The Toradjas include many 
tribes and the particular tribe whose 



usages in regard to the Rice-mother 
are described in the text is probably 
not one of those whose customs and 
beliefs have been described by Mr. A. 
C. Kruijt in many valuable papers. 
See above, p. 183 note^, and The Magic 
Art and the Evolution of Kings, i. 109 
note'. 

' M. Joustra, " Het leven, de zeden 
en gewoonten der Bataks," Mededee- 
lingen van wage het Nede?-landsche 
Zendelinggenootschap, xlvi. (1902) pp. 
425 sq. 

2 J. H. Neumann, " lets over den 
landbouw bij de Karo-Bataks," ]\Iede- 
deelingen van wege het Nederlandsche 
Zendelinggenootschap, xlvi. {1902) pp. 
380 sq. As to the employment in 
ritual of young people whose parents 
are both alive, see Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 
Second Edition, pp. 413 sqq. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 197 

In Mandeling, a district of Sumatra, contrary to what The King 
seems to be the usual practice, the spirit of the rice is personi- ^j^g^^ 
fied as a male instead of as a female and is called the Rajah Mandeling. 
or King of the Rice. He is supposed to be immanent in 
certain rice-plants, which are recognised by their peculiar 
formation, such as a concealment of the ears in the sheath, 
an unusual arrangement of the leaves, or a stunted growth. 
When one or more such plants have been discovered in the 
field, they are sprinkled with lime-juice, and the spirits are 
invoked by name and informed that they are expected at 
home and that all is ready for their reception. Then the 
King of the Rice is plucked with the hand and seven 
neighbouring rice-stalks cut with a knife. He and his seven 
companions are then carefully brought home ; the bearer 
may not speak a word, and the children in the house may 
make no noise till the King of the Rice has been safely 
lodged in the granary and tethered, for greater security, with 
a grass rope to one of the posts. As soon as that is done, 
the doors are shut to prevent the spirits of the rice from 
escaping. The person who fetches the King of the Rice 
from the field should prepare himself for the important duty 
by eating a hearty meal, for it would be an omen of a bad 
harvest if he presented himself before the King of the 
Rice with an empty stomach. For the same reason the 
sower of rice should sow the seed on a full stomach, in 
order that the ears which spring from the seed may be full 
also.^ 

Again, just as in Scotland the old and the young spirit The Rice- 
of the corn are represented as an Old Wife {Cailleacli) and [he'Rke" 
a Maiden respectively, so in the Malay Peninsula we find child at 
both the Rice-mother and her child represented by different jjjg Malay 
sheaves or bundles of ears on the harvest-field. The follow- Peninsula. 
ing directions for obtaining both are translated from a native 
Malay work on the cultivation of rice : " When the rice is 

1 A. L. van Hasselt, " Nota, betref- Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, Tweede 

fende de rijstcultuur in de Residentie Serie, xiv. (1897) pp. 290 sq. As to 

Tapanoeli," Tijdschrift voor Indischc the rule of sowing seed on a full 

Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde, xxxvi. stomach, which is a simple case of 

(1893) PP- 526-529; Th. A. L. homoeopathic or imitative magic, see 

Heyting, " Beschrijving der Onderaf- further The Magic Art and the Evoln- 

deeling Groot- mandeling en Batang- tion of Kings, i. 136. 
natal," Tijdschrijtvan hetNederlandsch 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



mother and 
the Rice- 
child at 
harvest in 
the Malay 
Peninsula. 



The Rice- ripe all over, one must first take the ' soul ' out of all the 
plots of one's field. You choose the spot where the rice is 
best and where it is ' female ' (that is to say, where the 
bunch of stalks is big) and where there are seven joints in 
the stalk. You begin with a bunch of this kind and clip 
seven stems to be the ' soul of the rice ' ; and then you clip 
yet another handful to be the ' mother-seed ' for the following 
year. The ' soul ' is wrapped in a white cloth tied with a 
cord of terap bark, and made into the shape of a little child 
in swaddling clothes, and put into the small basket. The 
' mother -seed ' is put into another basket, and both are 
fumigated with benzoin, and then the two baskets are 
piled the one on the other and taken home, and put into 
the kepuk (the receptacle in which rice is stored)." ^ The 
ceremony of cutting and bringing home the Soul of the Rice 
was witnessed by Mr. W. W. Skeat at Chodoi in Selangor 
on the twenty-eighth of January 1897. The particular 
bunch or sheaf which was to serve as the Mother of the 
Rice -soul had previously been sought and identified by 
means of the markings or shape of the ears. From this 
sheaf an aged sorceress, with much solemnity, cut a little 
bundle of seven ears, anointed them with oil, tied them 
round with parti -coloured thread, fumigated them with 
incense, and having wrapt them in a white cloth deposited 
them in a little oval-shaped basket. These seven ears were 
the infant Soul of the Rice and the little basket was its 
cradle. It was carried home to the farmer's house by 
another woman, who held up an umbrella to screen the 
tender infant from the hot rays of the sun. Arrived at the 
house the Rice-child was welcomed by the women of the 
family, and laid, cradle and all, on a new sleeping-mat with 
pillows at the head. After that the farmer's wife was 
instructed to observe certain rules of taboo for three days, 
the rules being in many respects identical with those which 
have to be observed for three days after the birth of a real 
child. For example, perfect quiet must be observed, as in 
a house where a baby has just been born ; a light was 
placed near the head of the Rice-child's bed and might not 
go out at night, while the fire on the hearth had to be kept 

^ W. W. Skeat, Alalay ^/a^c (London, 1900), pp. 225 sq. 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 199 

Up both day and night till the three days were over ; hair 
might not be cut ; and money, rice, salt, oil, and so forth 
were forbidden to go out of the house, though of course 
these valuable articles were quite free to come in. Some- 
thing of the same tender care which is thus bestowed on 
the newly-born Rice-child is naturally extended also to its 
parent, the sheaf from whose body it w^as taken. This 
sheaf, which remains standing in the field after the Rice-soul 
has been carried home and put to bed, is treated as a newly- 
made mother ; that is to say, young shoots of trees are 
pounded together and scattered broadcast every evening for 
three successive days, and when the three days are up you 
take the pulp of a coco-nut and what are called " goat- 
flowers," mix them up, eat them with a little sugar, and spit 
some of the mixture out among the rice. So after a real 
birth the young shoots of the jack-fruit, the rose-apple, certain 
kinds of banana, and the thin pulp of young coco-nuts are 
mixed with dried fish, salt, acid, prawn-condiment, and the 
like dainties to form a sort of salad, which is administered 
to mother and child for three successive days. The last 
sheaf is reaped by the farmer's wife, who carries it back to 
the house, where it is threshed and mixed with the Rice- 
soul. The farmer then takes the Rice-soul and its basket and 
deposits it, together with the product of the last sheaf, in 
the big circular rice-bin used by the Malays. Some grains 
from the Rice-soul are mixed with the seed which is to be 
sown in the following year.^ In this Rice-mother and Rice- 
child of the Malay Peninsfila we may see the counterpart 
and in a sense the prototype of the Demeter and Persephone 
of ancient Greece. 

Once more, the European custom of representing the The Rice- 
corn-spirit in the double form of bride and bridegroom "" has the'^^j'^e^ 
its parallel in a ceremony observed at the rice-harvest in biide- 
Java. Before the reapers begin to cut the rice, the priest or harvSt^in 
sorcerer picks out a number of ears of rice, which are tied Java, 
together, smeared with ointment, and adorned with flowers. 
Thus decked out, the ears are called the padi-penganten, that 
is, the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom ; their wedding 
feast is celebrated, and the cutting of the rice begins im- 

1 W. W. Skeat, Malay Magic, pp. 235-249. - See above, pp. 163 sq. 



THE CORN- MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



Another 
account 
of the 
Javanese 
custom. 



mediately afterwards. Later on, when the rice is being got 
in, a bridal chamber is partitioned off in the barn, and 
furnished with a new mat, a lamp, and all kinds of toilet 
articles. Sheaves of rice, to represent the wedding guests, 
are placed beside the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom. 
Not till this has been done may the whole harvest be housed 
in the barn. And for the first forty days after the rice has 
been housed, no one may enter the barn, for fear of dis- 
turbing the newly-wedded pair.^ 

Another account of the Javanese custom runs as 
follows. When the rice at harvest is to be brought home, 
two handfuls of common unhusked rice (paddy) are tied 
together into a sheaf, and two handfuls of a special 
kind of rice {kleefrijsf) are tied up into another sheaf; 
then the two sheaves are fastened together in a bundle 
which goes by the name of " the bridal pair " (^pen- 
gantenan). The special rice is the bridegroom, the common 
rice is the bride. At the barn " the bridal pair " is received 
on a winnowing-fan by a wizard, who removes them from 
the fan and lays them on the floor with a couch of kloewih 
leaves under them " in order that the rice may increase," and 
b?side them he places a kcmiri nut, tamarind pips, and a top 
and string as playthings with which the young couple may 
divert themselves. The bride is called Emboq Sri and the 
bridegroom Sadana, and the wizard addresses them by name, 
saying : " Emboq Sri and Sadana, I have now brought you 
home and I have prepared a place for you. May you sleep 
agreeably in this agreeable place ! Emboq Sri and Sadana, 
you have been received by So-and-So (the owner), let So- 



1 P. J. Veth, Java (Haarlem, 
1875-1884), i. 524-526. The cere- 
mony has also been described by Miss 
Augusta de \^\i{Facts and Fancies about 
Java, Singapore, 1898, pp. 229-241), 
who lays stress on the extreme import- 
ance of the rice-harvest for the Javanese. 
The whole island of Java, she tells us, 
"is one vast rice-field. Rice on the 
swampy plains, rice on the risingground, 
rice on the slopes, rice on the very 
summits of the hills. From the sod 
under one's feet to the verge of the 
horizon, everything has one and the 



same colour, the bluish -green of the 
young, or the gold of the ripened rice. 
The natives are all, without exception, 
tillers of the soil, who reckon their lives 
by seasons of planting and reaping, 
whose happiness or misery is synony- 
mous with the abundance or the dearth 
of the precious grain. And the great 
national feast is the harvest home, with 
its crowning ceremony of the Wedding 
of the Rice " (op. cit. pp. 229 sq. ). I have 
to thank my friend Dr. A. C. Iladdon 
for directing my attention to Miss de 
Wit's book. 



I 



vr THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 201 

and-So lead a life free from care. May Emboq Sri's luck 
continue in this very agreeable place ! " ^ 

The sanne idea of the rice-spirit as a husband and wife The rice- 
meets us also in the harvest customs of Bali and Lombok, f^"^^' ^, 

' husband 

two islands which lie immediately to the east of Java. " The and wife 
inhabitants of Lombok," we are told, " think of the rice-plant Lonfbok""^ 
as animated by a soul. They regard it as one with a 
divinity and treat it with the distinction and honour that are 
shewn to a very important person. But as it is impossible 
to treat all the rice-stalks in a field ceremoniously, the native, 
feeling the need of a visible and tangible representative of 
the rice-deity and taking a part for the whole, picks out 
some stalks and conceives them as the visible abode of the 
rice-soul, to which he can pay his homage and from which 
he hopes to derive advantage. These few stalks, the fore- 
most among their many peers, form what is called the nmt'n 
pantun by the people of Bali and the inan pare by the 
Sassaks " of Lombok.^ The name ina pare is sometimes 
translated Rice-mother, but the more correct translation is 
said to be " the principal rice." The stalks of which this 
"principal rice" consists are the first nine shoots which the 
husbandman himself takes with his own hands from the 
nursery or bedding-out ground and plants at the upper end 
of the rice-field beside the inlet of the irrigation water. They 
are planted with great care in a definite order, one of them 
in the middle and the other eight in a circle about it. When 
the whole field has been planted, an offering, which usually 
consists of rice in many forms, is made to " the principal 
rice " {inan pare). When the rice-stalks begin to swell the 
rice is said to be pregnant, and the " principal rice " is 
treated with the delicate attentions which are paid to a 
woman with child. Thus rice-pap and eggs are laid down 
beside it, and sour fruits are often presented to it, because 
pregnant women are believed to long for sour fruit. More- 

1 A. C. Kruijt, " Gebruiken bij den /^^/^«j-(r/2fl/>/£«,Afdeeling Letterkunde, 

rijstoogst in enkele streken op Oost- Vierde Reeks, v. part 4 (Amsterdam, 

Java," Mededeelingen van wege het 1903), pp. 398 sqq. 
Nederlandsche Zendelinggenootschap, ^ J. C. van Eerde, "Gebruiken bij 

xlvii. (1903) pp. 132-134. Compare den rijstbouw en rijstoogst op Lombok," 

id., " De rijst-moeder in den Indischen Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land- 

Archipel," Verslagfn en Afededee- en Volkenhtnde, xlv. (1902) pp. 563- 

lingen der koniiikl/Jke Akadeiiiie van 565 note. 



202 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

The Rice- over the fertilisation of the rice by the irrigation water is 
husband compared to the union of the goddess Batari Sri with her 
and wife in husband Ida Batara (Vishnu), who is identified with the 
Lombok. Aowing water. Some people sprinkle the pregnant rice 
with water in which cooling drugs have been infused or with 
water which has stood on a holy grave, in order that the 
ears may fill out well. When the time of harvest has come, 
the owner of the field himself makes a beginning by cutting 
" the principal rice " {inan pare or ninin pantun) with his 
own hands and binding it into two sheaves, each com- 
posed of one hundred and eight stalks with their leaves 
attached to them. One of the sheaves represents a man 
and the other a woman, and they are called " husband and 
wife " {istri kakung). The male sheaf is wound about with 
thread so that none of the leaves are visible, whereas the 
female sheaf has its leaves bent over and tied so as to 
resemble the roll of a woman's hair. Sometimes, for further 
distinction, a necklace of rice-straw is tied round the female 
sheaf. The two sheaves are then fastened together and tied 
to a branch of a tree, which is stuck in the ground at the 
inlet of the irrigation water. There they remain while all 
the rest of the rice is being reaped. Sometimes, instead of 
being tied to a bough, they are laid on a little bamboo altar. 
The reapers at their work take great care to let no grains of 
rice fall on the ground, otherwise the Rice-goddess would 
grieve and weep at being parted from her sisters, who are 
carried to the barn. If any portion of the field remains 
unreaped at nightfall, the reapers make loops in the leaves 
of some of the standing stalks to prevent the evil spirits 
from proceeding with the harvest during the hours of dark- 
ness, or, according to another account, lest the Rice-goddess 
should go astray. When the rice is brought home from 
the field, the two sheaves representing the husband and 
wife are carried by a woman on her head, and are the last 
of all to be deposited in the barn. There they are laid to 
rest on a small erection or on a cushion of rice-straw 
along with three lumps of nasi, which are regarded 
as the attendants or watchers of the bridal pair. The 
whole arrangement, we are informed, has for its object 
to induce the rice to increase and multiply in the granary, 



VI THE RICE-MOTHER IN THE EAST INDIES 203 

SO that the owner may get more out of it than he 
put in. Hence when the people of Bali bring the two 
sheaves, the husband and wife, into the barn, they say, 
" Increase ye and multiply without ceasing." When a 
woman fetches rice from the granary for the use of her 
household, she has to observe a number of rules, all of 
which are clearly dictated by respect for the spirit of the 
rice. She should not enter the barn in the dark or at noon, 
perhaps because the spirit may then be supposed to be 
sleeping. She must enter with her right foot first. She 
must be decently clad with her breasts covered. She must 
not chew betel, and she would do well to rinse her mouth 
before repairing to the barn, just as she would do if she 
waited on a person of distinction or on a divinity. No sick 
or menstruous woman may enter the barn, and there must 
be no talking in it, just as there must be no talking when 
shelled rice is being scooped up. When all the rice in the 
barn has been used up, the two sheaves representing the hus- 
band and wife remain in the empty building till they have 
gradually disappeared or been devoured by mice. The 
pinch of hunger sometimes drives individuals to eat up the 
rice of these two sheaves, but the wretches who do so are 
viewed with disgust by their fellows and branded as pigs 
and dogs. Nobody would ever sell these holy sheaves with 
the rest of their profane brethren.^ 

The same notion of the propagation of the rice by a The Father 
male and female power finds expression amongst the Szis of ^jot^ej. 
Upper Burma. When the paddy, that is, the rice with the of the Rice 
husks still on it, has been dried and piled in a heap for gzis of 
threshing, all the friends of the household are invited to the Burma, 
threshing-floor, and food and drink are brought out. The 
heap of paddy is divided and one half spread out for 
threshing, while the other half is left piled up. On the pile 
food and spirits are set, and one of the elders, addressing 
"the father and mother of the paddy-plant," prays for 
plenteous harvests in future, and begs that the seed may 
bear many fold. Then the whole party eat, drink, and 
make merry. This ceremony at the threshing-floor is the 

^ J. C. van Eerde, " Gebruiken bij Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land- 
den rijstbouw en rijstoogst opLombok," en Volkenkimde, xlv.(i902)pp. 563-573. 



204 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



only occasion when these people invoke " the father and 
mother of the paddy." ^ 



The spirit 
of the corn 
sometimes 
thought to 
be em- 
bodied in 
men or 
women. 



The Old 
Woman 
who Never 
Dies, the 
goddess of 
the crops 
among the 
Mandans 
and Min- 
nitarees. 



§ 5 . TJie Spu'it of the Corn embodied in Human Beings 

Thus the theory which recognises in the European Corn- 
mother, Corn-maiden, and so forth, the embodiment in 
vegetable form of the animating spirit of the crops is amply 
confirmed by the evidence of peoples in other parts of the 
world, who, because they have lagged behind the European races 
in mental development, retain for that very reason a keener 
sense of the original motives for observing those rustic rites 
which among ourselves have sunk to the level of meaningless 
survivals. The reader may, however, remember that accord- 
ing to Mannhardt, whose theory I am expounding, the spirit 
of the corn manifests itself not merely in vegetable but also 
in human form ; the person who cuts the last sheaf or gives 
the last stroke at threshing passes for a temporary embodi- 
ment of the corn-spirit, just as much as the bunch of corn 
which he reaps or threshes. Now in the parallels which have 
been hitherto adduced from the customs of peoples outside 
Europe the spirit of the crops appears only in vegetable 
form. It remains, therefore, to prove that other races be- 
sides our European peasantry have conceived the spirit of 
the crops as incorporate in or represented by living men 
and women. Such a proof, I may remind the reader, is 
germane to the theme of this book ; for the more instances 
we discover of human beings representing in themselves 
the life or animating spirit of plants, the less difficulty will 
be felt at classing amongst them the King of the Wood at 
Nemi. 

The Mandans and Minnitarees of North America used 
to hold a festival in spring which they called the corn- 
medicine festival of the women. They thought that a certain 
Old Woman who Never Dies made the crops to grow, and 
that, living somewhere in the south, she sent the migratory 
waterfowl in spring as her tokens and representatives. Each 
sort of bird represented a special kind of crop cultivated by 



1 (Sir) J. G. Scott and J. P. Hardi- 
man, Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the 



Shan States, Part i. vol. i. (Rangoon, 
1900) p. 426. 



VI SPIRIT OF THE CORN IN HUMAN BEINGS 205 

the Indians : the wild goose stood for the maize, the wild 
swan for the gourds, and the wild duck for the beans. So 
when the feathered messengers of the Old Woman began to 
arrive in spring the Indians celebrated the corn -medicine 
festival of the women. Scaffolds were set up, on which the 
people hung dried meat and other things by way of offerings 
to the Old Woman ; and on a certain day the old women of 
the tribe, as representatives of the Old Woman who Never 
Dies, assembled at the scaffolds each bearing in her hand an 
ear of maize fastened to a stick. They first planted these 
sticks in the ground, then danced round the scaffolds, and 
finally took up the sticks again in their arms. Meanwhile 
old men beat drums and shook rattles as a musical accom- 
paniment to the performance of the old women. Further, 
young women came and put dried flesh into the mouths of 
the old women, for which they received in return a grain of 
the consecrated maize to eat. Three or four grains of the 
holy corn were also placed in the dishes of the young women, 
to be afterwards carefully mixed with the seed-corn, which 
they were supposed to fertilise. The dried flesh hung on 
the scaffold belonged to the old women, because they repre- 
sented the Old Woman who Never Dies. A similar corn- 
medicine festival was held in autumn for the purpose of 
attracting the herds of buffaloes and securing a supply of 
meat. At that time every woman carried in her arms an 
uprooted plant of maize. They gave the name of the Old 
Woman who Never Dies both to the maize and to those 
birds which they regarded as symbols of the fruits of the 
earth, and they prayed to them in autumn saying, " Mother, 
have pity on us ! send us not the bitter cold too soon, lest 
we have not meat enough ! let not all the game depart, that 
we may have something for the winter ! " In autumn, when 
the birds were flying south, the Indians thought that they 
were going home to the Old Woman and taking to her the 
offerings that had been hung up on the scaffolds, especially 
the dried meat, which she ate.^ Here then we have the 
spirit or divinity of the corn conceived as an Old Woman 
and represented in bodily form by old women, who in their 

1 Maximilian, Prinz zu Wied, Reise in das iniidie Nord-America (Coblenz, 
1839-1841), ii. 182 sq. 



2o6 



THE CORN-MOTHER JN MANY LANDS 



Miami 
myth of 
the Corn- 
spirit in 
the form 
of a 

broken- 
down 
old man. 



capacity of representatives receive some at least of the 
offerings which are intended for her. 

The Miamis, another tribe of North American Indians, 
tell a tale in which the spirit of the corn figures as a broken- 
down old man. They say that corn, that is, maize, first 
grew in heaven, and that the Good Spirit commanded it to 
go down and dwell with men on earth. At first it was 
reluctant to do so, but the Good Spirit prevailed on it to go 
by promising that men would treat it well in return for the 
benefit they derived from it. " So corn came down from 
heaven to benefit the Indian, and this is the reason why 
they esteem it, and are bound to take good care of it, and to 
nurture it, and not raise more than they actually require, 
for their own consumption." But once a whole town of the 
Miamis was severely punished for failing in respect for the 
corn. They had raised a great crop and stored much of it 
under ground, and much of it they packed for immediate 
use in bags. But the corn v/as so plentiful that much of it 
still remained on the stalks, and the young men grew reck- 
less and played with the shelled cobs, throwing them at each 
other, and at last they even broke the cobs from the growing 
stalks and pelted each other with them too. But a judg- 
ment soon followed on such wicked conduct. For when the 
hunters went out to hunt, though the deer seemed to abound, 
they could kill nothing. So the corn was gone and they 
could get no meat, and the people were hungry. Well, one 
of the hunters, roaming by himself in the woods to find 
something to eat for his aged father, came upon a small 
lodge in the wilderness where a decrepit old man was lying 
with his back to the fire. Now the old man was no other 
than the Spirit of the Corn. He said to the young hunter, 
" My grandson, the Indians have afflicted me much, and 
reduced me to the sad state in which you see me. In the 
side of the lodge you will find a small kettle. Take it and 
eat, and when you have satisfied your hunger, I will speak 
to you." But the kettle was full of such fine sweet corn as 
the hunter had never in his life seen before. When he had 
eaten his fill, the old man resumed the thread of his dis- 
course, saying, " Your people have wantonly abused and 
reduced me to the state you now see me in : my back-bone 



VI SPIRIT OF THE CORN IN HUMAN BEINGS 207 

is broken in many places ; it was the foolish young men of 
your town who did me this evil, for I am Mondamin, or 
corn, that came down from heaven. In their play they 
threw corn-cobs and corn-ears at one another, treating me 
with contempt. I am the corn -spirit whom they have 
injured. That is why you experience bad luck and famine. 
I am the cause ; you feel my just resentment, therefore 
your people are punished. Other Indians do not treat me 
so. They respect me, and so it is well with them. Had 
you no elders to check the youths at their wanton sport ? 
You are an eye-witness of my sufferings. They are the 
effect of what you did to my body." With that he groaned 
and covered himself up. So the young hunter returned and 
reported what he had seen and heard ; and since then the 
Indians have been very careful not to play with corn in 
the ear.^ 

In some parts of India the harvest -goddess Gauri is The 
represented at once by an unmarried girl and by a bundle '^o^deg" 
of wild balsam plants, which is made up into the figure of a Gauri re- 
woman and dressed as such with mask, garments, and orna- by^a^gjri 
ments. Both the human and the vegetable representative and a 
of the goddess are worshipped, and the intention of the plants. 
whole ceremony appears to be to ensure a good crop of 



S 6. The Double Personificatio7i of the Corn as Mother 
and Daughter 

Compared with the Corn-mother of Germany and the Analogy of 
harvest-Maiden of Scotland, the Demeter and Persephone and Per- 
of Greece are late products of religious growth. Yet as sephone to 
members of the Aryan family the Greeks must at one mother, the 
time or another have observed harvest customs like those ^^a^'^y'^st- 

maiden, 

which are still practised by Celts, Teutons, and Slavs, and and similar 
which, far beyond the limits of the Aryan world, have fife^^arvest 
been practised by the Indians of Peru, the Dyaks of customs of 
Borneo, and many other natives of the East Indies — a European 

• H. R. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes in honour of Gauri and Ganesh," In- 

of the United States, v. (Philadelphia, dian Antiqtiary, xxxv. (1906) p. 61. 

1856) pp. 193-195. For details see The Magic Art arid the 

- B. A. Gupte, "Harvest Festivals Evolution of Kings, ii. ']T sq. 



2o8 THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

sufficient proof that the ideas on which these customs rest 
are not confined to any one race, but naturally suggest them- 
selves to all untutored peoples engaged in agriculture. It 
The rustic is probable, therefore, that Demeter and Persephone, those 
analogues g^^^-gjy ^nd beautiful figures of Greek mythology, grew out 
and Perse- of the Same simple beliefs and practices which still prevail 
P^^°"^' among our modern peasantry, and that they were represented 
by rude dolls made out of the yellow sheaves on many a 
harvest-field long before their breathing images were wrought 
in bronze and marble by the master hands of Phidias and 
Praxiteles. A reminiscence of that olden time — a scent, so 
to say, of the harvest-field — lingered to the last in the title 
of the Maiden {Kore) by which Persephone was commonly 
known. Thus if the prototype of Demeter is the Corn- 
mother of Germany, the prototype of Persephone is the 
harvest-Maiden, which, autumn after autumn, is still made 
from the last sheaf on the Braes of Balquhidder. Indeed, if 
we knew more about the peasant-farmers of ancient Greece, 
we should probably find that even in classical times they 
continued annually to fashion their Corn-mothers (Demeters) 
and Maidens (Persephones) out of the ripe corn on the 
harvest-fields.^ But unfortunately the Demeter and Perse- 
phone whom we know were the denizens of towns, the majestic 
inhabitants of lordly temples ; it was for such divinities 
alone that the refined writers of antiquity had eyes ; the 
uncouth rites performed by rustics amongst the corn were 
beneath their notice. Even if they noticed them, they 
probably never dreamed of any connexion between the 
puppet of corn-stalks on the sunny stubble-field and the 
marble divinity in the shady coolness of the temple. Still 
the writings even of these town-bred and cultured persons 
afford us an occasional glimpse of a Demeter as rude as the 
rudest that a remote German village can shew. Thus 
the story that lasion begat a child Plutus (" wealth," 
" abundance ") by Demeter on a thrice-ploughed field,^ may 

1 It is possible that the image of of the kind described in the text. The 

Demeter with corn and poppies in her suggestion was made to me by my 

hands, which Theocritus (vii. \^^ sqq.) learned and esteemed friend Dr. W. 

describes as standing on a rustic thresh- H. D. Rouse. 

ing-floor (see above, p. 47), may have ^ Homer, Odyssey, v. 125 sqq. ; 

been a Corn-mother or a Corn-maiden Hesiod, Theog. 969 sqq. 



VI THE CORN AS MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 209 

be compared with the West Prussian custom of the mock 
birth of a child on the harvest-field.^ In this Prussian 
custom the pretended mother represents the Corn-mother 
{ZjtniaiJiatka) ; the pretended child represents the Corn- 
baby, and the whole ceremony is a charm to ensure a crop 
next year.^ The custom and the legend alike point to an 
older practice of performing, among the sprouting crops in 
spring or the stubble in autumn, one of those real or mimic 
acts of procreation by which, as we have seen, primitive 
man often seeks to infuse his own vigorous life into the 
languid or decaying energies of nature.^ Another glimpse 
of the savage under the civilised Demeter will be afforded 
farther on, when we come to deal with another aspect of 
these agricultural divinities. 

The reader may have observed that in modern folk- Why did 
customs the corn-spirit is generally represented either by a p^rsonff^^^ 
Corn-mother (Old Woman, etc.) or by a Maiden (Harvest- the corn as 
child, etc.), not both by a Corn-mother and by a Maiden, an'd a ^^ 
Why then did the Greeks represent the corn both as a daughter? 
mother and a daughter? 

In the Breton custom the mother-sheaf — a large figure Demeter 
made out of the last sheaf with a small corn-doll inside of Z^^ ^^Z' 

naps the 

it — clearly represents both the Corn-mother and the Corn- ripe crop 
daughter, the latter still unborn.* Again, in the Prussian sephone 
custom just referred to, the woman who plays the part of the seed- 
Corn-mother represents the ripe grain ; the child appears to 
represent next year's corn, which may be regarded, naturally 
enough, as the child of this year's corn, since it is from the 
seed of this year's harvest that next year's crop will spring. 
Further, we have seen that among the Malays of the Peninsula 

^ See above, pp. 150 j^. Evolution of Kings, \\. 138. Amongst 

2 It is possible that a ceremony the Minnitarees in North America, the 

performed in a Cyprian worship of Prince of Neuwied saw a tall strong 

Ariadne may have been of this nature : woman pretend to bring up a stalk of 

at a certain annual sacrifice a young maize out of her stomach ; the object 

man lay down and mimicked a of the ceremony was to secure a good 

woman in child-bed. See Plutarch, crop of maize in the following year. 

Tkesetis, 20 : iv Stj tt? dvaiq. tov See Maximilian, Prinz zu Wied, Reisc 

Topwiaiov /M-qvos IffTafxivov devr^pa Kara- in das innere Nord- America (Coblenz, 

K\iv6ixiv6v TLva tCov veavlcTKwv (pdeyyeadai. 1 839- 1 84 1 ), ii. 269. 
Kal iroLe^v Hirep C^OLVov<TaLyvvalKes. We 3 g^^ j.^^ ^^ .^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ 

have already seen grounds for regardmg Evolution of Kings, ii. 97 sqq. 
Ariadne as a goddess or spirit of vege- 
tation. See The Magic Art and the ^ See above, p. 135. 

PT. V. VOL. I P 



2IO THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS chap. 

and sometimes among the Highlanders of Scotland the spirit 
of the grain is represented in double female form, both as old 
and young, by means of ears taken alike from the ripe crop : 
in Scotland the old spirit of the corn appears as the Carline 
or Cailleach^ the young spirit as the Maiden ; while among 
the Malays of the Peninsula the two spirits of the rice are 
definitely related to each other as mother and child. ^ Judged 
by these analogies Demeter would be the ripe crop of this 
year ; Persephone would be the seed-corn taken from it and 
sown in autumn, to reappear in spring.^ The descent of 
Persephone into the lower world would thus be a mythical 
expression for the sowing of the seed ; her reappearance in 
spring would signify the sprouting of the young corn. In 
this way the Persephone of one year becomes the Demeter 
of the next, and this may very well have been the original 
form of the myth. But when with the advance of religious 
thought the corn came to be personified, no longer as a 
being that went through the whole cycle of birth, growth, 
reproduction, and death within a year, but as an immortal 
goddess, consistency required that one of the two personifi- 
cations, the mother or the daughter, should be sacrificed. 
However, the double conception of the corn as mother and 
daughter may have been too old and too deeply rooted in 
the popular mind to be eradicated by logic, and so room 
had to be found in the reformed myth both for mother 
and daughter. This was done by assigning to Persephone 
the character of the corn sown in autumn and sprouting in 
spring, while Demeter was left to play the somewhat vague 
part of the heavy mother of the corn, who laments its annual 
disappearance underground, and rejoices over its reappear- 
ance in spring. Thus instead of a regular succession of 
divine beings, each living a year and then giving birth to her 
successor, the reformed myth exhibits the conception of two 
divine and immortal beings, one of whom annually disappears 
into and reappears from the ground, while the other has little 
to do but to weep and rejoice at the appropriate seasons.^ 

1 See above, pp. 140 sqq., 155 sqq., ripe crop. See above, pp. 57, 58 sq. 
164 sqq., 197 sqq, 3 According to Augustine {De civi- 

2 However, the Sicilians seem on the tate Dei, iv. 8) the Romans imagined 
contrary to have regarded Demeter as a whole series of distinct deities, mostly 
the seed-corn and Persephone as the goddesses, who took charge of the corn 



i 



VI THE CORN AS MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 211 

This theory of the double personification of the corn Or the 
in Greek myth assumes that both personifications (Demeter ^'"^^^^ 

■' . . -^ ^ may have 

and Persephone) are original. But if we suppose that the started 
Greek myth started with a single personification, the after- ^"'^ ^"^^ 
growth of a second personification may perhaps be explained fication of 
as follows. On looking over the harvest customs which have ^ single ^^ 
been passed under review, it may be noticed that they involve goddess, 
two distinct conceptions of the corn-spirit. For whereas in conception 
some of the customs the corn-spirit is treated as immanent in ^^ ^ second 

ffoddess 

the corn, in others it is regarded as external to it. Thus may have 
when a particular sheaf is called by the name of the corn- ^^^^ ^ 

... . later 

spirit, and is dressed in clothes and handled with reverence,^ deveiop- 
the spirit is clearly regarded as immanent in the corn. But '"^"'' 
when the spirit is said to make the crops grow by passing 
through them, or to blight the grain of those against whom 
she has a grudge,^ she is apparently conceived as distinct 
from, though exercising power over, the corn. Conceived in 
the latter way the corn-spirit is in a fair way to become a 
deity of the corn, if she has not become so already. Of 
these two conceptions, that of the corn-spirit as immanent in 
the corn is doubtless the older, since the view of nature as 
animated by indwelling spirits appears to have generally 
preceded the view of it as controlled by external deities ; 
to put it shortly, animism precedes deism. In the harvest 
customs of our European peasantry the corn-spirit seems 
to be conceived now as immanent in the corn and now as 
external to it. In Greek mythology, on the other hand, 
Demeter is viewed rather as the deity of the corn than as the 
spirit immanent in it.^ The process of thought which leads 

at all its various stages from the time England. See Folk-lore Journal, vii. 

when it was committed to the ground (1888) p. 270 ; and Herrick's evidence, 

to the time when it was lodged in the above, p. I47> note^. The Malay 

granary. Such a multiplication of sorceress who cut the seven ears of 

mythical beings to account for the rice to form the Rice-child kissed the 

process of growth is probably late ears after she had cut them (W. W. 

rather than early. Skeat, Malay Magic, p. 241). 

1 In some places it was customary j ., 

to kneel down before the last sheaf, in ' ^^" ■^ "' 

others to kiss it. See W. Mannhardt, ^ Even in one of the oldest docu- 

Kornddmonen, p. 26; id., Mytho- vi\e.xA%,\!^&'^oxatx\c Hymn to Demeter, 

logische Forschungen, p. 339. The Demeter is represented as the goddess 

custom of kneeling and bowing before who controls the growth of the corn 

the last corn is said to have been rather than as the spirit who is im- 

observed, at least occasionally, in manent in it. See above, pp. 36 sq. 



THE CORN-MOTHER IN MANY LANDS 



Duplica- 
tion of 
deities as 
a con- 
sequence 
of the 
anthropo- 
morphic 
tendency. 



Example 
of such 
duplication 
in Japan, 
where there 
are two 
distinct 
deities of 
the sun. 



to the change from the one mode of conception to the other 
is anthropomorphism, or the gradual investment of the im- 
manent spirits with more and more of the attributes of 
humanity. As men emerge from savagery the tendency to 
humanise their divinities gains strength ; and the more 
human these become the wider is the breach which severs 
them from the natural objects of which they were at first 
merely the animating spirits or souls. But in the progress 
upwards from savagery men of the same generation do 
not march abreast ; and though the new anthropomorphic 
gods may satisfy the religious wants of the more developed 
intelligences, the backward members of the community will 
cling by preference to the old animistic notions. Now when 
the spirit of any natural object such as the corn has been 
invested with human qualities, detached from the object, and 
converted into a deity controlling it, the object itself is, by 
the withdrawal of its spirit, left inanimate ; it becomes, so to 
say, a spiritual vacuum. But the popular fancy, intolerant 
of such a vacuum, in other words, unable to conceive any- 
thing as inanimate, immediately creates a fresh mythical 
being, with which it peoples the vacant object. Thus the 
same natural object comes to be represented in mythology 
by two distinct beings : first by the old spirit now separated 
from it and raised to the rank of a deity ; second, by the 
new spirit, freshly created by the popular fancy to supply 
the place vacated by the old spirit on its elevation to a 
higher sphere. For example, in Japanese religion the solar 
character of Ama-terasu, the great goddess of the Sun, has 
become obscured, and accordingly the people have personified 
the sun afresh under the name of Nichi-rin sajna, " sun- 
wheeling personage," and O tentd sania, " august-heaven- 
path-personage " ; to the lower class of Japanese at the 
present day, especially to women and children, O tentd sama 
is the actual sun, sexless, mythless, and unencumbered by 
any formal worship, yet looked up to as a moral being who 
rewards the good, punishes the wicked, and enforces oaths 
made in his name.^ In such cases the problem for mythology 
is, having got two distinct personifications of the same object, 
what to do with them ? How are their relations to each other 

1 W. G. Aston, Shinto (London, 1905), p. 127. 



VI THE CORN AS MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 213 

to be adjusted, and room found for both in the mythological 
system ? When the old spirit or new deity is conceived as 
creating or producing the object in question, the problem is 
easily solved. Since the object is believed to be produced 
by the old spirit, and animated by the new one, the latter, as 
the soul of the object, must also owe its existence to the 
former ; thus the old spirit will stand to the new one as pro- 
ducer to produced, that is, in mythology, as parent to child, 
and if both spirits are conceived as female, their relation will 
be that of mother and daughter. In this way, starting from Perhaps 
a single personification of the corn as female, mythic fancy "^'^ ^'^^f'' 

° ^ ^ J J personin- 

might in time reach a double personification of it as mother cation of 
and daughter. It would be very rash to affirm that this was ^ motiier^^ 
the way in which the myth of Demeter and Persephone and a 
actually took shape ; but it seems a legitimate conjecture (Demeter 
that the reduplication of deities, of which Demeter and and Perse- 
Persephone furnish an example, may sometimes have arisen caseofsucii 
in the way indicated. For example, among the pairs of ^ niythicai 

•' . duplica- 

deities dealt with in a former part of this work, it has been tion. 
shewn that there are grounds for regarding both Isis and her 
companion god Osiris as personifications of the corn.^ On 
the hypothesis just suggested, Isis would be the old corn- 
spirit, and Osiris would be the newer one, whose relationship 
to the old spirit was variously explained as that of brother, 
husband, and son ;^ for of course mythology would always 
be free to account for the coexistence of the two divinities 
in more ways than one. It must not, however, be forgotten 
that this proposed explanation of such pairs of deities as 
Demeter and Persephone or Isis and Osiris is purely con- 
jectural, and is only given for what it is worth. 

1 See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second - A. Pauly, Real-Encydopddie der 

Edition, pp. 323 sqq., 330 sqq., 346 classischen Altert/nt7)imjissenschafi, v, 
sqq. (Stuttgart, 1849) p. loii. 



CHAPTER VII 



LITYERSES 



Death and 
resurrec- 
tion a 
leading 
incident in 
the myth 
of Per- 
sephone, 
as in the 
myths of 
Adonis, 
Attis, 

Osiris, and 
Dionysus. 



Popular 
harvest 
and vintage 
customs in 
ancient 

Egypt. 

Syria, and 
Phrygia. 



^ I. Songs of the Corn Reapers 

In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to shew 
that in the Corn-mother and Harvest-maiden of Northern 
Europe we have the prototypes of Demeter and Persephone. 
But an essential feature is still wanting to complete the 
resemblance. A leading incident in the Greek myth is the 
death and resurrection of Persephone ; it is this incident 
which, coupled with the nature of the goddess as a deity of 
vegetation, links the myth with the cults of Adonis, Attis, 
Osiris, and Dionysus ; and it is in virtue of this incident 
that the myth finds a place in our discussion of the Dying 
God. It remains, therefore, to see whether the conception 
of the annual death and resurrection of a god, which figures 
so prominently in these great Greek and Oriental worships, 
has not also its origin or its analogy in the rustic rites 
observed by reapers and vine-dressers amongst the corn- 
shocks and the vines. 

Our general ignorance of the popular superstitions and 
customs of the ancients has already been confessed. But 
the obscurity which thus hangs over the first beginnings of 
ancient religion is fortunately dissipated to some extent in 
the present case. The worships of Osiris, Adonis, and Attis 
had their respective seats, as we have seen, in Egypt, Syria, 
and Phrygia ; and in each of these countries certain harvest 
and vintage customs are known to have been observed, the 
resemblance of which to each other and to the national rites 
struck the ancients themselves, and, compared with the 

214 



CHAP. VII SONGS OF THE CORN REAPERS 215 

harvest customs of modern peasants and barbarians, seems 
to throw some light on the origin of the rites in question. 

It has been already mentioned, on the authority of Maneros. 
Diodorus, that in ancient Egypt the reapers were wont to son'<^'of'^^ 
lament over the first sheaf cut, invoking Isis as the goddess Egjptian 
to whom they owed the discovery of corn.^ To the plaintive ""^^P^*"^' 
song or cry sung or uttered by Egyptian reapers the Greeks 
gave the name of Maneros, and explained the name by a 
story that Maneros, the only son of the first Egyptian king, 
invented agriculture, and, dying an untimely death, was thus 
lamented by the people.^ It appears, however, that the name 
Maneros is due to a misunderstanding of the formula 
mdd-ne-hra, " Come to the house," which has been discovered 
in various Egyptian writings, for example in the dirge of 
Isis in the Book of the Dead.^ Hence we may suppose that 
the cry mdd-ne-Jira was chanted by the reapers over the cut 
corn as a dirge for the death of the corn-spirit (Isis or Osiris) 
and a prayer for its return. As the cry was raised over the 
first ears reaped, it would seem that the corn-spirit was 
believed by the Egyptians to be present in the first corn 
cut and to die under the sickle. We have seen that in the 
Malay Peninsula and Java the first ears of rice are taken to 
represent either the Soul of the Rice or the Rice-bride and 
the Rice-bridegroom.'* In parts of Russia the first sheaf is 
treated much in the same way that the last sheaf is treated 
elsewhere. It is reaped by the mistress herself, taken home 
and set in the place of honour near the holy pictures ; after- 
wards it is threshed separately, and some of its grain is 
mixed with the next year's seed-corn.^ In Aberdeenshire, 
while the last corn cut was generally used to make the 
clyack sheaf,^ it was sometimes, though rarely, the first corn 

^ Diodorus Siculus, i. 14, in yap das LinosHcd (Berlin, 1852), p. 24. 

KoX vvv Kara tov depiafj-bf toi)s wpwrovs According to another interpretation, 

aiirjdivTas ardxi's devras tous dvdpunrovs however, Maneros is the Egyptian 

KOTTTecrdai Tr\T]criov TOV 5pdy/j.aTos KaiTr}v ?naiitirosh, "Let us be merry." See 

''Yaiv avaKaXeladai kt\. For Oeura^ Lauth, " Dber den agyptischen 

we should perhaps read cnjvdevTas, Maneros," Sitzungsberichte der k'dnigl. 

which is supported by the following buyer. Akademie der IVissensckaftcn 

5p6.yiia.Tos. zu Aliinchen, 1S69, ii. 163- 194. 

- Herodotus, ii. 79; Julius Pollux, iv. * Above, pp. i()J sgq. 

54 ; Pausanias, ix. 29. 7 ; Athenaeus, ° W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the 

xiv. II, p. 620 A. Russian People (London, 1872), pp. 

^ H. Brugsch, Die Adonisldage ttnd 249 sq. ^ See above, pp. 158 s<]. 



2l6 



LITYERSES 



Linus or 
Aiiinus, a 
plaintive 
song sung 
at the 
vintage in 
Phoenicia. 



Bormus, a 
plaintive 
song sung 
by Marian- 
dynian 
reapers in 
Biihynia. 



cut that was dressed up as a woman and carried home with 
ceremony.^ 

In Phoenicia and Western Asia a plaintive song, like 
that chanted by the Egyptian corn-reapers, was sung at the 
vintage and probably (to judge by analogy) also at harvest. 
This Phoenician song was called by the Greeks Linus or 
Aiiinus and explained, like Maneros, as a lament for the 
death of a youth named Linus.^ According to one story 
Linus was brought up by a shepherd, but torn to pieces by 
his dogs.^ But, like Maneros, the name Linus or Aiiinus 
appears to have originated in a verbal misunderstanding, and 
to be nothing more than the cry ai lanu, that is " Woe to us," 
which the Phoenicians probably uttered in mourning for 
Adonis ; ^ at least Sappho seems to have regarded Adonis 
and Linus as equivalent.^ 

In Bithynia a like mournful ditty, called Bormus or 
Borimus, was chanted by Mariandynian reapers. Bormus 
was said to have been a handsome youth, the son of King 
Upias or of a wealthy and distinguished man. One summer 
day, watching the reapers at work in his fields, he went to 
fetch them a drink of water and was never heard of more. 
So the reapers sought for him, calling him in plaintive 
strains, which they continued to chant at harvest ever after- 
wards.^ 



Lityerses, 
a song 
sung at 



§ 2. Killing the Corn-spirit 

In Phrygia the corresponding song, sung by harvesters 
both at reaping and at threshing, was called Lityerses. 



' W. Gregor, " Quelques coutumes 
du Nord-est du comte d'Aberdeen," 
Reviie des Traditions populaires, iii. 
(1888) p. 487 (should be 535). 

"^ Homer, Iliad, xviii. 570 ; Herodo- 
tus, ii. 79 ; Pausanias, ix. 29. 6-9 ; 
Conon, Narrat. 19. For the form 
Aiiinus see Suidas, s.v. ; Euripides, 
Orestes, 1395; Sophocles, Ajax, 627. 
Compare Moschus, Idyl. iii. i ; 
Callimachus, Hymn to Apollo, 20. 
See Greve, s.v. "Linos," in W. H. 
Roscher's AiisfiihrUches Lexikon der 
griech. und rdm. Mytliologie, ii. 2053 
sqq. 

^ Conon, N'arrat. 19. 



* F. C. Movers, Die Ph'dnizier, i. 
(Bonn, 1 84 1), p. 246 ; W. Mannliardt, 
Antike Wald- und Feldknlte (Berlin, 
1877), p. 281. In Hebrew the ex- 
pression would be o'i lanu («^ 'ix), 
which occurs in i Samuel, iv. 7 and 8 ; 
Jeremiah, iv. 13, vi. 4. However, 
the connexion of the Linus song with 
the lament for Adonis is regarded by 
Baudissin as very doubtful. See W. 
W. Graf Baudissin, Adovis und 
Esrnun (Leipsic, 191 1 ), p. 360, note^. 

^ Pausanias, ix. 29. 8. 

^ Julius Pollux, iv. 54 ; Athenaeus, 
xiv. II, pp. 619 F-620 A : Hesychius, 
svv. Bupfxov and Mapioi'Si'fos dprjvoi. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 217 

According to one story, Lityerses was a bastard son of reaping 
Midas, King of Phrygia, and dwelt at Ceiaenae. He ^hrtshing 
used to reap the corn, and had an enormous appetite, in Phrygia. 
When a stranger happened to enter the corn-field or to Lityerses! 
pass by it, Lityerses gave him plenty to eat and drink, 
then took him to the corn-fields on the banks of the 
Maeander and compelled him to reap along with him. 
Lastly, it was his custom to wrap the stranger in a sheaf, 
cut off his head with a sickle, and carry away his 
body, swathed in the corn stalks. But at last Hercules 
undertook to reap with him, cut off his head with the 
sickle, and threw his body into the river.^ As Hercules 
is reported to have slain Lityerses in the same way that 
Lityerses slew others (as Theseus treated Sinis and Sciron), 
we may infer that Lityerses used to throw the bodies of his 
victims into the river. According to another version of the 
story, Lityerses, a son of Midas, was wont to challenge 
people to a reaping match with him, and if he vanquished 
them he used to thrash them ; but one day he met with a 
stronger reaper, who slew him.^ 

There are some grounds for supposing that in these The 
stories of Lityerses we have the description of a Phrygian Lit\^r°es 
harvest custom in accordance with which certain persons, seems to 
especially strangers passing the harvest field, were regularly ^^ ^-y^ 
regarded as embodiments of the corn-spirit, and as such were Phrygian 
seized by the reapers, wrapt in sheaves, and beheaded, their custom of 
bodies, bound up in the corn-stalks, being afterwards thrown kiihng 

^ - , . strangers 

into water as a rain-charm. The grounds for this sup- asembodi- 
position are, first, the resemblance of the Lityerses story to "^1^"^!^^.°*^ 
the harvest customs of European peasantry, and, second, the spirit. 
frequency of human sacrifices offered by savage races to 

^ The story was told by Sositheus in sickle with which Lityerses beheaded 

his play of Daphnis. His verses have his victims. Servius calls Lityerses a 

been preserved in the tract of an king and says that Hercules cut off his 

anonymous writer. See Scripiores head with the sickle that had been given 

rerutn fnirabilium Graeci, ed. A. him to reap with. Lityerses is the sub- 

Westermann (Brunswick, 1839), pp. ject of a special study by W. Mannhardt 

220 sq.\ also Athenaeus, x. 8, p. {Mythologische Fo7-schungen,i^^.\ sqq.), 

415 B; Scholiast on Theocritus, x. whom I follow. Compare O. Crusius, 

41; Photius, Lexicon, Suidas, and s.v. " Lityerses," in W^. H. Roscher's 

Hesychius, s.v. "Lityerses" ; Aposto- Ausfiihrliches Lexikoii der griech. 70td 

lius, Centur. x. 74; Servius, on Virgil, rd?n. Mytkologie, ii. 2065 sqq. 
Bucol. viii. 68. Photius mentions the ^ Julius Pollux, iv. 54. 



2l8 



LIT Y ERSES 



Contests 
among 
reapers, 
binders, 
and 

threshers 
in order 
not to be 
the last at 
their work. 



promote the fertility of the fields. We will examine these 
grounds successively, beginning with the former. 

In comparing the story with the harvest customs of 
Europe/ three points deserve special attention, namely : I. the 
reaping match and the binding of persons in the sheaves ; 1 1, the 
killing of the corn-spirit or his representatives ; III. the treat- 
ment of visitors to the harvest field or of strangers passing it. 

I. In regard to the first head, we have seen that in 
modern Europe the person who cuts or binds or threshes the 
last sheaf is often exposed to rough treatment at the hands 
of his fellow-labourers. For example, he is bound up in the 
last sheaf, and, thus encased, is carried or carted about, 
beaten, drenched with water, thrown on a dunghill, and so 
forth. Or, if he is spared this horseplay, he is at least 
the subject of ridicule or is thought to be destined to suffer 
some misfortune in the course of the year. Hence the 
harvesters are naturally reluctant to give the last cut at 
reaping or the last stroke at threshing or to bind the last 
sheaf, and towards the close of the work this reluctance 
produces an emulation among the labourers, each striving 
to finish his task as fast as possible, in order that he 
may escape the invidious distinction of being last.^ For 
example, in the neighbourhood of Danzig, when the winter 
corn is cut and mostly bound up in sheaves, the portion 
which still remains to be bound is divided amongst the 
women binders, each of whom receives a swath of equal 
length to bind. A crowd of reapers, children, and idlers 
gather round to witness the contest, and at the word, " Seize 
the Old Man," the women fall to work, all binding their 
allotted swaths as hard as they can. The spectators watch 
them narrowly, and the woman who cannot keep pace with 
the rest and consequently binds the last sheaf has to carry 



1 In this comparison I closely follow 
W. Mannhardt, Mythologische For- 
schungen, pp. 1 8 sqq. 

^ Compare above, pp. 134, 136, 
137 sq., 140, 142, 143, 144, 145, 
147 si/., 149, 164 sg. On the other 
hand, the last sheaf is sometimes an 
object of desire and emulation. See 
above, pp. 136, 141, 153, 154 sq., 
156, 162 note^, 165. It is so at 



Balquhidder also {Folk-lore Journal, 
vi. 269) ; and it was formerly so on 
the Gareloch, Dumbartonshire, where 
there was a competition for the honour 
of cutting it, and handfuls of standing 
corn used to be hidden under sheaves 
in order that the last to be uncovered 
should form the Maiden. — (From the 
information of Archie Leitch. See 
pp. 157 sq.) 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 219 

the Old Man (that is, the last sheaf made up in the form of 
a man) to the farmhouse and deliver it to the farmer with 
the words, " Here I bring you the Old Man." At the supper 
which follows, the Old Man is placed at the table and receives 
an abundant portion of food, which, as he cannot eat it, falls 
to the share of the woman who carried him. Afterwards the 
Old Man is placed in the yard and all the people dance 
round him. Or the woman who bound the last sheaf dances 
for a good while with the Old Man, while the rest form a 
ring round them ; afterwards they all, one after the other, 
dance a single round with him. Further, the woman who 
bound the last sheaf goes herself by the name of the Old 
Man till the next harvest, and is often mocked with the cry, 
" Here comes the Old Man." ^ In the Mittelmark district of 
Prussia, when the rye has been reaped, and the last sheaves 
are about to be tied up, the binders stand in two rows 
facing each other, every woman with her sheaf and her 
straw rope before her. At a given signal they all tie up 
their sheaves, and the one who is the last to finish is ridiculed 
by the rest. Not only so, but her sheaf is made up into 
human shape and called the Old Man, and she must 
carry it home to the farmyard, where the harvesters dance in 
a circle round her and it. Then they take the Old Man 
to the farmer and deliver it to him with the words, " We 
bring the Old Man to the Master. He may keep him till 
he gets a new one." After that the Old Man is set up 
against a tree, where he remains for a long time, the butt of 
many jests.^ At Aschbach in Bavaria, when the reaping is 
nearly finished, the reapers say, " Now, we will drive out the 
Old Man." Each of them sets himself to reap a patch of 
corn as fast as he can ; he who cuts the last handful or the 
last stalk is greeted by the rest with an exulting cry, " You 
have the Old Man." Sometimes a black mask is fastened on 
the reaper's face and he is dressed in woman's clothes ; or if 
the reaper is a woman, she is dressed in man's clothes. A 
dance follows. At the supper the Old Man gets twice as 
large a portion of food as the others. The proceedings are 
similar at threshing ; the person who gives the last stroke is 

^ W. Mannhardt, Alythologische ^ A. Kuhn, Mdrkische Sagen toid 

Forsckungen, pp. 19 sq . Mdrchen (Berlin, 1843), p. 342. 



thresher. 



220 LITYERSES chap. 

said to have the Old Man. At the supper given to the 

threshers he has to eat out of the cream-ladle and to drink a 

great deal. Moreover, he is quizzed and teased in all sorts 

of ways till he frees himself from further annoyance by 

treating the others to brandy or beer.^ 

Custom of These examples illustrate the contests in reaping, thresh- 

wrapping jj^g^ ^^^ binding which take place amongst the harvesters, 

corn-stalks from their unwillingness to suffer the ridicule and discomfort 

the last incurred by the one who happens to finish his work last. It 

binder, or will be remembered that the person who is last at reaping, 

binding, or threshing, is regarded as the representative of 

the corn-spirit,^ and this idea is more fully expressed by 

binding him or her in corn-stalks. The latter custom has 

been already illustrated, but a few more instances may be 

added. At Kloxin, near Stettin, the harvesters call out to 

the woman who binds the last sheaf, " You have the Old 

Man, and must keep him." The Old Man is a great bundle 

of corn decked with flowers and ribbons, and fashioned into 

a rude semblance of the human form. It is fastened on a 

rake or strapped on a horse, and brought with music to the 

village. In delivering the Old Man to the farmer, the 

woman says : — 

" Here, dear Sir, is the Old Man. 
He can stay no longer oti the field. 
He can hide himself no longer. 
He must come into the village. 
Ladies and gentlemen, pray be so kind 
As to give the Old Man a present.'''' 

As late as the first half of the nineteenth century the 
custom was to tie up the woman herself in pease-straw, and 
bring her with music to the farmhouse, where the harvesters 
danced with her till the pease-straw fell ofif.^ In other 
villages round Stettin, when the last harvest-waggon is being 
loaded, there is a regular race amongst the women, each 
striving not to be last. For she who places the last sheaf 
on the waggon is called the Old Man, and is completely 

^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische a«j 7>4«W«^«i (Vienna, 1878), p. 222, 

Forschungen, p. 20; F. Panzer, Beitrag § 69. 

zur deutschen Mythologie (Munich, 2 Above, pp. 167 sq. 

1848-1855), ii. p. 217, §397; A. Witz- 3 w. Mannhardt, Mythologische 

schel, Sagefi, Sitten unci Gebrduche Forschiaigeii, p. 22. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT -2.-21 

swathed in corn-stalks ; she is also decked with flowers, and 
flowers and a helmet of straw are placed on her head. In 
solemn procession she carries the harvest-crown to the squire, 
over whose head she holds it while she utters a string of 
good wishes. At the dance which follows, the Old Man 
has the right to choose his, or rather her, partner ; it is an 
honour to dance with him.^ At Blankenfelde, in the district 
of Potsdam, the woman who binds the last sheaf at the rye- 
harvest is saluted with the cry, " You have the Old Man." 
A woman is then tied up in the last sheaf in such a way 
that only her head is left free ; her hair also is covered with 
a cap made of rye-stalks, adorned with ribbons and flowers. 
She is called the Harvest-man, and must keep dancing in 
front of the last harvest-waggon till it reaches the squire's 
house, where she receives a present and is released from her 
envelope of corn.^ At Gommern, near Magdeburg, the 
reaper who cuts the last ears of corn is often wrapt up in 
corn-stalks so completely that it is hard to see whether 
there is a man in the bundle or not. Thus wrapt up he is 
taken by another stalwart reaper on his back, and carried 
round the field amidst the joyous cries of the harvesters.^ 
At Neuhausen, near Merseburg, the person who binds the 
last sheaf is wrapt in ears of oats and saluted as the Oats- 
man, whereupon the others dance round him.^ At Brie, Isle 
de France, the farmer himself is tied up in the first sheaf.^ 
At the harvest-home at Udvarhely, Transylvania, a person 
is encased in corn-stalks, and wears on his head a crown 
made out of the last ears cut. On reaching the village he is 
soused with water over and over.^ At Dingelstedt, in the 
district of Erfurt, down to the first half of the nineteenth 
century it was the custom to tie up a man in the last sheaf 
He was called the Old Man, and was brought home on the 
last waggon, amid huzzas and music. On reaching the farm- 
yard he was rolled round the barn and drenched with water.^ 
At Nordlingen in Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke 
at threshing is wrapt in straw and rolled on the threshing- 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische * Ibid. pp. 23 sq. 
Forschungen, p. 22. * Ibid. p. 24. 

2 Ibid. pp. 22 sq. ^ Ibid. p. 24. 
•^ Ibid. p. 23. "^ Ibid. p. 24. 



LIT VERSES 



The corn- 
spirit, 
driven 
out of the 
last corn, 
lives in the 
barn dur- 
ing the 
winter. 

Similar 
ideas as to 
the last 
corn in 
India. 



floor.^ In some parts of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, he is said to 
" get the Old Man," is wrapt in straw, and carried to a 
neighbour who has not yet finished his threshing.^ In Silesia 
the woman who binds the last sheaf has to submit to a good 
deal of horse-play. She is pushed, knocked down, and tied 
up in the sheaf, after which she is called the corn-puppet 
{Kornpopet)? In Thiiringen a sausage is stuck in the last 
sheaf at threshing, and thrown, with the sheaf, on the 
threshing-floor. It is called the Barremviirst or Ba::enwurst, 
and is eaten by all the threshers. After they have eaten it a 
man is encased in pease-straw, and thus attired is led through 
the village.'* 

" In all these cases the idea is that the spirit of the 
corn — the Old Man of vegetation — is driven out of the corn 
last cut or last threshed, and lives in the barn during the 
winter. At sowing-time he goes out again to the fields to 
resume his activity as animating force among the sprouting 
corn." " 

Ideas of the same sort appear to attach to the last corn 
in India. At Hoshangabad, in Central India, when the reaping 
is nearly done, a patch of corn, about a rood in extent, is left 
standing in the cultivator's last field, and the reapers rest a little. 
Then they rush at this remnant, tear it up, and cast it into the 
air, shouting victory to one or other of the local gods, according 
to their religious persuasion. A sheaf is made out of this 
corn, tied to a bamboo, set up in the last harvest cart, and 
carried home in triumph. Here it is fastened up in the 
threshing-floor or attached to a tree or to the cattle-shed, 
where its services are held to be essential for the purpose of 
averting the evil-eye.® A like custom prevails in the eastern 
districts of the North- Western Provinces of India. Sometimes 
a little patch is left untilled as a refuge for the field-spirit ; 
sometimes it is sown, and when the corn of this patch has 
been reaped with a rush and a shout, it is presented to the 



^ Ibid. pp. 24 sq. 

* Ibid. p. 25. 

' P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch tiiid 
Volksglanbe in Schlesien (Leipsic, 1903- 
1906), ii. 65. 

* A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sit tea und 
Gebrdttcke aus Thiiringen (Vienna, 
1878), p. 223, § 70. 



» W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungen, pp. 25 sq. 

6 C. A. Elliot, Hoshangabad Settle- 
ment Report, p. 178, quoted in Punjab 
Notes and Queries, iii. §§ 8, 168 (Octo- 
ber and December, 1885); W. Crooke, 
Popular Religion and Folklore of North- 
ern India (Westminster, 1896), ii. 306. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 223 

priest, who offers it to the local gods or bestows it on a 
beggar.^ 

II. Passing to the second point of comparison between Thecorn- 
the Lityerses story and European harvest customs, we have posed To'" 
now to see that in the latter the corn-spirit is often believed ^^ ^^jiied at 
to be killed at reaping or threshing. In the Romsdal and threshing.'^ 
other parts of Norway, when the haymaking is over, the 
people say that " the Old Hay-man has been killed." In 
some parts of Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke 
at threshing is said to have killed the Corn-man, the Oats- 
man, or the Wheat-man, according to the crop.^ In the 
Canton of Tillot, in Lothringen, at threshing the last corn 
the men keep time with their flails, calling out as they 
thresh, " We are killing the Old Woman ! We are killing 
the Old Woman ! " If there is an old woman in the house 
she is warned to save herself, or she will be struck dead.^ 
Near Ragnit, in Lithuania, the last handful of corn is left 
standing by itself, with the words, " The Old Woman {Bobd) 
is sitting in there." Then a young reaper whets his scythe, 
and, with a strong sweep, cuts down the handful. It is now 
said of him that " he has cut off the Boba's head " ; and he 
receives a gratuity from the farmer and a jugful of water over 
his head from the farmer's wife.* According to another 
account, every Lithuanian reaper makes haste to finish his 
task ; for the Old Rye-woman lives in the last stalks, and 
whoever cuts the last stalks kills the Old Rye-woman, and by 
killing her he brings trouble on himself.'^ In Wilkischken, in 
the district of Tilsit, the man who cuts the last corn goes by 
the name of " the killer of the Rye-woman." ^ In Lithuania, 
again, the corn-spirit is believed to be killed at threshing as 
well as at reaping. When only a single pile of corn remains 
to be threshed, all the threshers suddenly step back a few 
paces, as if at the word of command. Then they fall to work, 
plying their flails with the utmost rapidity and vehemence, 
till they come to the last bundle. Upon this they fling 
themselves with almost frantic fury, straining every nerve, 
and raining blows on it till the word " Halt ! " rings out 

1 W. Crooke, op. cit. ii. 306 sq. ^ Ibid. p. 334. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische * Ibid. p. 330. 
Forschungen, p. 31. ^ Ibid. " Ibid. p. 331. 



224 



LIT VERSES 



sharply from the leader. The man whose flail is the last to 
fall after the command to stop has been given is immediately 
surrounded by all the rest, crying out that " he has struck 
the Old Rye-woman dead." He has to expiate the deed by 
treating them to brandy ; and, like the man who cuts the 
last corn, he is known as " the killer of the Old Rye- 
woman." ^ Sometimes in Lithuania the slain corn-spirit was 
represented by a puppet. Thus a female figure was made 
out of corn-stalks, dressed in clothes, and placed on the 
threshing-floor, under the heap of corn which was to be 
threshed last. Whoever thereafter gave the last stroke at 
threshing " struck the Old Woman dead." ^ We have already 
met with examples of burning the figure which represents 
the corn-spirit.^ In the East Riding of Yorkshire a custom 
called " burning the Old Witch " is observed on the last day 
of harvest. A small sheaf of corn is burnt on the field in a 
fire of stubble ; peas are parched at the fire and eaten with 
a liberal allowance of ale ; and the lads and lasses romp 
about the flames and amuse themselves by blackening each 
Corn-spirit Other's faces.'* Sometimes, again, the corn -spirit is repre- 
""^P""^" , sented by a man, who lies down under the last corn ; 

sented bv ■' 

a man, ' it is threshed upon his body, and the people say that 
"the Old Man is being beaten to death." ^ We saw that 
sometimes the farmer's wife is thrust, together with the last 
sheaf, under the threshing-machine, as if to thresh her, and 
that afterwards a pretence is made of winnowing her.^ At 
Volders, in the Tyrol, husks of corn are stuck behind the 
neck of the man who gives the last stroke at threshing, and 
he is throttled with a straw garland. If he is tall, it is 
believed that the corn will be tall next year. Then he is 
tied on a bundle and flung into the river.'' In Carinthia, 
the thresher who gave the last stroke, and the person who 

1 W. Mannhardt, Afylhologische 1890. I have to thank Mr. E. S. 
Forschungen, p. 335. Hartland for calling my attention to 

2 Ibid. p. 335. the custom and allowing me to see 

3 Above, pp. 135, 146. Mr. Nicholson's letter. 

4 J. Nicholson, Folk-lore of East 6 w. Mannhardt, Z)/6- A'^;-«rf<7:/«^«^//, 
Yorkshire (London, Hull, and Drif- 26 
field, 1890), p. 28, supplemented by a ' 

letter of the author's addressed to Mr. Above, pp. 149 sq. 

E. S. Hartland and dated 33 Leices- ^ W. Mannhardt, Mylhologisclu 

ter Street, Hull, nth September, Forschungen, p. 50. 



who is 
threshed 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 225 

untied the last sheaf on the threshing-floor, are bound hand 
and foot with straw bands, and crowns of straw are placed 
on their heads. Then they are tied, face to face, on a 
sledge, dragged through the village, and flung into a brook.^ 
The custom of throwing the representative of the corn-spirit 
into a stream, like that of drenching him with water, is, 
as usual, a rain-charm.^ 

III. Thus far the representatives of the corn-spirit have corn-spirit 
generally been the man or woman who cuts, binds, or g^^j^^ u 
threshes the last corn. We now come to the cases in which a stranger 
the corn-spirit is represented either by a stranger passing °^ ^he'^''°^ 
the harvest-field (as in the Lityerses tale), or by a visitor harvest- 
entering it for the first time. All over Germany it is ig^treated 
customary for the reapers or threshers to lay hold of accord- 
passing strangers and bind them with a rope made of 
corn-stalks, till they pay a forfeit ; and when the farmer 
himself or one of his guests enters the field or the threshing- 
floor for the first time, he is treated in the same way. 
Sometimes the rope is only tied round his arm or his feet 
or his neck.^ But sometimes he is regularly swathed in 
corn. Thus at Solor in Norway, whoever enters the field, 
be he the master or a stranger, is tied up in a sheaf and 
must pay a ransom. In the neighbourhood of Soest, when 
the farmer visits the flax-pullers for the first time, he is 
completely enveloped in flax. Passers-by are also sur- 
rounded by the women, tied up in flax, and compelled to 
stand brandy.'^ At Nordlingen strangers are caught with 
straw ropes and tied up in a sheaf till they pay a forfeit.^ 
Among the Germans of Haselberg, in West Bohemia, as soon 
as a farmer had given the last corn to be threshed on the 
threshing-floor, he was swathed in it and had to redeem 

1 Ibid. pp. 50 sq. deutscken IVestbokmen (Prague, 1905), 

2 See above, pp. 146, 170 note^; p. 193 ; A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten 
Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, und Gebrdnche ans TlmringeniyxcwViZ., 
pp. 195 sqq. 1878), p. 221, § 61 ; R. Krause, Sitten, 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische For- Gebrduche und Aberglauben in West- 

schunge pp. 32 sqq. Compare K. preussen (Berlin, preface dated March, 

'Ba.risch, Sagen, Mdrckeji und Gebrduche 1904), p. 51 ; Revue des Traditions 

aus Meklenburg (Vienna, 1879- 1880), populaires, iii. (1888) p. 598. 

ii. 2q6 j^. ; Y.T>xtQ>ci%\&x,Sitte, Branch , ,.j ,, 1 j. nr ^1 1 ■ 1 

/jT-f, 7 1- c L7 ■ /T • • * W. Mannhardt, Mytholosiische 

und Volksglaube tn Schlesten (Leipsic, zr 1, e 

1903- 1 906), ii. 62 sq. ; A. John, ''^^'' " ^^ ' "P" ^^ ^' 

Sitte, Branch und Volksglaube im "" Ibid. p. 36. 

PT. V. vol.. I Q 



226 LITYERSES chap. 

himself by a present of cakes.^ In Anhalt, when the pro- 
prietor or one of his family, the steward, or even a stranger 
enters the harvest-field for the first time after the reaping 
has begun, the wife of the chief reaper ties a rope twisted of 
corn-ears, or a nosegay made of corn-ears and flowers, to 
his arm, and he is obliged to ransom himself by the payment 
of a fine.^ In the canton of Putanges, in Normandy, a 
pretence of tying up the owner of the land in the last sheaf 
of wheat is still practised, or at least was still practised some 
quarter of a century ago. The task falls to the women alone. 
They throw themselves on the proprietor, seize him by the 
arms, the legs, and the body, throw him to the ground, and 
stretch him on the last sheaf Then a show is made of 
binding him, and the conditions to be observed at the 
harvest-supper are dictated to him. When he has accepted 
them, he is released and allowed to get up.^ At Brie, Isle 
de France, when any one who does not belong to the farm 
passes by the harvest-field, the reapers give chase. If they 
catch him, they bind him in a sheaf and bite him, one after 
the other, in the forehead, crying, " You shall carry the key 
of the field." ^ " To have the key " is an expression used 
by harvesters elsewhere in the sense of to cut or bind or 
thresh the last sheaf ; ^ hence, it is equivalent to the phrases 
"You have the Old Man," "You are the Old Man," which 
are addressed to the cutter, binder, or thresher of the last 
sheaf Therefore, when a stranger, as at Brie, is tied up in 
a sheaf and told that he will " carry the key of the field," it 
is as much as to say that he is the Old Man, that is, an 
embodiment of the corn-spirit. In hop-picking, if a well- 
dressed stranger passes the hop-yard, he is seized by the 
women, tumbled into the bin, covered with leaves, and not 
released till he has paid a fine.^ In some parts of Scotland, 

* A. John, Sitte, Branch, und ° For the evidence, see t'dtd. p. 36, 
Volksglaube im deutschen Westbdhmeti, note 2. The "key" in the European 
(Prague, 1905), p. 194. custom is probably intended to serve 

'^ O. Hartung, " Zur Volkskunde aus the same purpose as the "knot" in 

Anhalt," Zeitschrift des Vereins fiir the Cingalese custom, as to which see 

Volkskunde, vii. (1897) p. 153. Taboo and the Perils of the Soul, pp. 

^ J. Lecoeur, Esguisses du Socage 308 sq. 

No)-mand (Conde-sur-Noireau, 1883- ^ From a letter written to me by 

1887), ii. 240^5^. Colonel Henry Wilson, of Farnborough 

* W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Lodge, Farnborough, Kent. The 
Forschungen, p. 36. letter is dated 21st March, 1901. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 227 

particularly in the counties of Fife and Kinross, down to 
recent times the reapers used to seize and dump, as it was 
called, any stranger who happened to visit or pass by the 
harvest field. The custom was to lay hold of the stranger 
by his ankles and armpits, lift him up, and bring the lower 
part of his person into violent contact with the ground. 
Women as well as men were liable to be thus treated. 
The practice of interposing a sheaf between the sufferer 
and the ground is said to be a modern refinement.^ Com- 
paring this custom with the one practised at Putanges in 
Normandy, which has just been described, we may con- 
jecture that in Scotland the " dumping " of strangers on the 
harvest-field was originally a preliminary to wrapping them 
up in sheaves of corn. 

Ceremonies of a somewhat similar kind are performed by cere- 
the Tarahumare Indians of Mexico not only at harvest but ^°^^^ 
also at hoeing and ploughing. " When the work of hoeing Tarahu- 
and weeding is finished, the workers seize the master of the ^^^^^^ 
field, and, tying his arms crosswise behind him, load all the at hoeing, 
implements, that is to say, the hoes, upon his back, fastening \^^ '"^ 
them with ropes. Then they form two single columns, the harvest. 
landlord in the middle between them, and all facing the 
house. Thus they start homeward. Simultaneously the 
two men at the heads of the columns begin to run rapidly 
forward some thirty yards, cross each other, then turn back, 
run along the two columns, cross each other again at the rear 
and take their places each at the end of his row. As they 
pass each other ahead and in the rear of the columns they 
beat their mouths with the hollow of their hands and yell. 
As soon as they reach their places at the foot, the next pair 
in front of the columns starts off, running in the same way, 
and thus pair after pair performs the tour, the procession all 
the time advancing toward the house. A short distance in 
front of it they come to a halt, and are met by two young 
men who carry red handkerchiefs tied to sticks like flags. 
The father of the family, still tied up and loaded with the 
hoes, steps forward alone and kneels down in front of his 
house-door. The flag-bearers wave their banners over him, 
and the women of the household come out and kneel on 

1 "Notes on Harvest Customs," The Folk-lore Journal^ vii. (1889) pp. 52 sq. 



228 LIT Y ERSES chap. 

their left knees, first toward the east, and after a little while 
toward each of the other cardinal points, west, south, and north. 
In conclusion the flags are waved in front of the house. 
The father then rises and the people untie him, whereupon 
he first salutes the women with the usual greeting, ' Kwlra ! ' 
or ' Kwirevd I ' Now they all go into the house, and the man 
makes a short speech thanking them all for the assistance 
they have given him, for how could he have gotten through 
his work without them ? They have provided him with a 
year's life (that is, with the wherewithal to sustain it), and 
now he is going to give them tesvino. He gives a drinking- 
gourd full to each one in the assembly, and appoints one 
man among them to distribute more to all. The same 
ceremony is performed after the ploughing and after the 
harvesting. On the first occasion the tied man may be 
made to carry the yoke of the oxen, on the second he does 
not carry anything." ^ The meaning of these Mexican 
ceremonies is not clear. Perhaps the custom of tying up 
the farmer at hoeing, ploughing, and reaping is a form of 
expiation or apology offered to the spirits of the earth, who 
are naturally disturbed by agricultural operations.^ When 
the Yabim of Simbang in German New Guinea see that 
the taro plants in their fields are putting forth leaves, they 
offer sacrifice of sago-broth and pork to the spirits of the 
former owners of the land, in order that they may be kindly 
disposed and not do harm but let the fruits ripen.^ 
Similarly when the Alfoors or Toradjas of Central Celebes 
are planting a new field, they offer rice, eggs, and so forth 
to the souls of the former owners of the land, hoping that, 
mollified by these offerings, the souls will make the crops to 
grow and thrive.* However, this explanation of the Mexican 
ceremonies at hoeing, ploughing, and reaping is purely con- 
jectural. In these ceremonies there is no evidence that, as 
in the parallel European customs, the farmer is identified 

^ C. Lumholtz, Unknown Mexico pelijk leven van den Poso-Alfoer," 

(London, 1903), i. 214 sq. Mededeelin^en van ivege het Neder- 

2 Compare Adonis, Attis, Osiris, landsche Zendelinggenootschap, xxxix. 

Second Edition, pp. 75 sq. (1895) p. 137. As to the influence 

^ Yi..Vei\.&x, A'omm heriiber und kilj which the spirits of the dead are 

uns ! Heft 2 (Barmen, 1898), p. 7. thought to exercise on the growth of 

* A. C. Kruijt. " Een en ander the crops, see above, pp. 103 sq., and 

aangaande het geestelijk en maatschap- below, vol. ii. pp. 1095'^^. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 229 

with the corn-spirit, since he is not wrapt up in the 
sheaves. 

Be that as it may, the evidence adduced above suffices Pretence 
to prove that, Hke the ancient Lityerses, modern European J^g^g^^p^^g 
reapers have been wont to lay hold of a passing stranger of killing 
and tie him up in a sheaf. It is not to be expected that \-^^y^ jj^g^j. 
they should complete the parallel by cutting off his head ; scythes. 
but if they do not take such a strong step, their language 
and gestures are at least indicative of a desire to do so. For 
instance, in Mecklenburg on the first day of reaping, if the 
master or mistress or a stranger enters the field, or merely 
passes by it, all the mowers face towards him and sharpen 
their scythes, clashing their whet-stones against them in 
unison, as if they were making ready to mow. Then the 
woman who leads the mowers steps up to him and ties 
a band round his left arm. He must ransom himself by 
payment of a forfeit.^ Near Ratzeburg, when the master 
or other person of mark enters the field or passes by it, 
all the harvesters stop work and march towards him in a 
body, the men with their scythes in front. On meeting him 
they form up in line, men and women. The men stick the 
poles of their scythes in the ground, as they do in whetting 
them ; then they take off their caps and hang them on the 
scythes, while their leader stands forward and makes a 
speech. When he has done, they all whet their scythes in 
measured time very loudly, after which they put on their 
caps. Two of the women binders then come forward ; one 
of them ties the master or stranger (as the case may be) 
with corn -ears or with a silken band ; the other delivers 
a rhyming address. The following are specimens of the 
speeches made by the reaper on these occasions. In some 
parts of Pomerania every passer-by is stopped, his way being 
barred with a corn-rope. The reapers form a circle round 
him and sharpen their scythes, while their leader says : — 

" The men are ready. 
The scythes are bent. 
The corn is great and small. 
The gentleman must be tnoived." 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschtmgen, p. 39. 



230 



LIT VERSES 



Then the process of whetting the scythes is repeated.^ At 
Ramin, in the district of Stettin, the stranger, standing 
encircled by the reapers, is thus addressed : — 

" WeHl stroke the gentleman 
With our naked sword. 
Wherewith we shear meadows and fields. 
We shear princes and lords. 
Labourers are often athirst ; 
If the gentleman will stand beer and brandy 
The joke will soon be over. 
But., if our prayer he does ?iot like, 
The sword has a right to strike." ^ 

That in these customs the whetting of the scythes is 
really meant as a preliminary to mowing appears from the 
following variation of the preceding customs. In the district 
of Liineburg, when any one enters the harvest-field, he is 
asked whether he will engage a good fellow. If he says 
yes, the harvesters mow some swaths, yelling and screaming, 
and then ask him for drink-money.^ 

On the threshing-floor strangers are also regarded as 
embodiments of the corn-spirit, and are treated accordingly. 
of choking At Wicdinghardc in Schleswig when a stranger comes to 
lurtheir the threshing-floor he is asked, " Shall I teach you the flail- 
flaiis. dance ? " If he says yes, they put the arms of the threshing- 

flail round his neck as if he were a sheaf of corn, and press 
them together so tight that he is nearly choked.* In some 
parishes of Wermland (Sweden), when a stranger enters 
the threshing-floor where the threshers are at work, they say 
that " they will teach him the threshing-song." Then they 
put a flail round his neck and a straw rope about his body. 
Also, as we have seen, if a stranger woman enters the 
threshing-floor, the threshers put a flail round her body and 
a wreath of corn-stalks round her neck, and call out, " See 
the Corn -woman! See! that is how the Corn -maiden 
looks ! " 5 



Pretence 
made by 
threshers 



1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschtingen, pp. 39 sq. 

2 Ibid. p. 40. For the speeches made 
by the woman who binds the stranger 
or the master, see ibid. p. 41 ; C. 
Lemke, Volksthilmliches in Ostpretissen 
(Mohrungen, 1884-1887), i. 23 sq. 



3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschuiigen, pp. 41 sq. 

* W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 42. See 
also above, p. 150. 

^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 42. See 
above, p. 149. In Thiiringen a being 
called the Rush-cutter [Binsensclmeidcr] 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 231 

In these customs, observed both on the harvest-field and Custom 
on the threshing-floor, a passing stranger is regarded as a "I'j^g^^'^ 
personification of the corn, in other words, as the corn-spirit ; madder- 
and a show is made of treating him like the corn by mow- Zealand"^ 
ing, binding, and threshing him. If the reader still doubts 
whether European peasants can really regard a passing 
stranger in this light, the following custom should set his 
doubts at rest. During the madder-harvest in the Dutch 
province of Zealand a stranger passing by a field, where the 
people are digging the madder-roots, will sometimes call out 
to them Koortspillers (a term of reproach). Upon this, two 
of the fleetest runners make after him, and, if they catch 
him, they bring him back to the madder-field and bury him 
in the earth up to his middle at least, jeering at him the 
while ; then they ease nature before his face.^ 

This last act is to be explained as follows. The spirit of The spirit 
the corn and of other cultivated plants is sometimes conceived, °f 'hs.'=°5" 

^ ' conceived 

not as immanent in the plant, but as its owner; hence the cut- as poor and 
ting of the corn at harvest, the digging of the roots, and the ^y ^j^^^ 
gathering of fruit from the fruit-trees are each and all of them reapers. 
acts of spoliation, which strip him of his property and reduce 
him to poverty. Hence he is often known as " the Poor 
Man " or " the Poor Woman." Thus in the neighbourhood 
of Eisenach a small sheaf is sometimes left standing on the 
field for "the Poor Old Woman." ^ At Marksuhl, near 
Eisenach, the puppet formed out of the last sheaf is itself 
called " the Poor W^oman." At Alt Lest in Silesia the man 
who binds the last sheaf is called the Beggar-man.^ In a 
village near Roeskilde, in Zealand (Denmark), old-fashioned 
peasants sometimes make up the last sheaf into a rude 
puppet, which is called the Rye - beggar.'* In Southern 
Schonen the sheaf which is bound last is called the Beggar ; 

used to be much dreaded. On the Gebrciuche aus Thiirmgen (Vienna, 

morning of St. John's Day he was wont 1878), p. 22 1. With the Binsen- 

to walk through the fields with sickles scAneider compSiVe the BiVsc/inezder and 

tied to his ankles cutting avenues in the Biberschneider (F. Panzer, Beiifag zur 

corn as he walked. To detect him, deutschen Mythologie, Munich, 1848- 

seven bundles of brushwood were 1855, ii. pp. 210 sq., §§ 372-378). 
silently threshed with the flail on the ' W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 

threshing-floor, and the stranger who Forschungen, pp. 47 sq. 
appeared at the door of the barn dur- ^ w. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 48. 

ing the threshing was the Rush-cutter. ^ W. Mannhardt, I.e. 

See A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten and * Ibid. pp. 48 sq. 



232 



LIT Y ERSES 



field for the 
corn- spirit. 



it is made bigger than the rest and is sometimes dressed 

in clothes. In the district of Olmiitz the last sheaf is called 

the Beggar ; it is given to an old woman, who must carry it 

Some of home, limping on one foot.^ Sometimes a little of the crop 

the corn j j^j-j. ^^ ^^ j^gj^ f^j. <^^ spirit, Under other names than 

left on the ^ 

harvest- " the Poor Old Woman." Thus at Szagmanten, a village of 
the Tilsit district, the last sheaf was left standing on the 
field " for the Old Rye-woman." ^ In Neftenbach (Canton 
of Zurich) the first three ears of corn reaped are thrown 
away on the field " to satisfy the Corn-mother and to make 
the next year's crop abundant." ^ At Kupferberg, in Bavaria, 
some corn is left standing on the field when the rest has 
been cut. Of this corn left standing they say that " it 
belongs to the Old Woman," to whom it is dedicated in the 
following words : — 

" We give it to the Old Woman; 
She shall keep it. 
Next year may she be to us 
As kind as this time she has beeti." ^ 

These words clearly shew that the Old Woman for whom 
the corn is left on the field is not a real personage, poor and 
hungry, but the mythical Old Woman who makes the corn 
to grow. At Schiittarschen, in West Bohemia, after the 
crop has been reaped, a few stalks are left standing and a 
garland is attached to them. " That belongs to the Wood- 
woman," they say, and offer a prayer. In this way the 
Wood-woman, we are told, has enough to live on through 
the winter and the corn will thrive the better next year. 
The same thing is done for all the different kinds of corn- 
crop.^ So in Thiaringen, when the after-grass {Grummet) is 
being got in, a little heap is left lying on the field ; it belongs 
to " the Little Wood-woman " in return for the blessing she 
has bestowed.^ In the Frankenwald of Bavaria three hand- 
fuls of flax were left on the field " for the Wood-woman." ^ 

^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische glaubeimdeutschenWestbdhnien{Vt2Lg\ie, 
Forschungen, p. 49. I905)> p. 189. 

2 Ji,i(^_ p. ■?^7 ^ ^' Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten ttnd 

3 J, ., Gebrduche ans Thiiringeii (Vienna, 

1878), p. 224, § 74. 

* W. Mannhardt, Mythologische ' Bavaria, Lmides- und Volkskunde 

Forschungen, pp. 337 sq. ,^,^ Konigreichs Bayern (Munich, 1860- 

^ A. John, Sitte, Branch iind Volks- 1S67), iii. 343 sq. 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 233 

At Lindau in Anhalt the reapers used to leave some stalks 
standing in the last corner of the last field for " the Corn- 
woman to eat." ^ In some parts of Silesia it was till lately 
the custom to leave a few corn-stalks standing in the field, 
" in order that the next harvest should not fail." ^ In Russia 
it is customary to leave patches of unreaped corn in the fields 
and to place bread and salt on the ground near them. " These 
ears are eventually knotted together, and the ceremony is 
called 'the plaiting of the beard of Volos,' and it is supposed 
that after it has been performed no wizard or other evilly- 
disposed person will be able to hurt the produce of the fields. 
The unreaped patch is looked upon as tabooed ; and it is 
believed that if any one meddles with it he will shrivel up, 
and become twisted like the interwoven ears. Similar customs 
are kept up in various parts of Russia. Near Kursk and 
Voroneje, for instance, a patch of rye is usually left in honour 
of the Prophet Elijah, and in another district one of oats is 
consecrated to St. Nicholas. As it is well known that both 
the Saint and the Prophet have succeeded to the place once 
held in the estimation of the Russian people by Perun, it 
seems probable that Volos really was, in ancient times, one 
of the names of the thunder-god." ^ In the north-east of 
Scotland a few stalks were sometimes left unreaped on the 
field for the benefit of " the aul' man." "" Here " the aul' 
man " is probably the equivalent of the harvest Old Man of 
Germany.^ Among the Mohammedans of Zanzibar it is 
customary at sowing a field to reserve a certain portion of it 
for the guardian spirits, who at harvest are invited, to the 
tuck of drum, to come and take their share ; tiny huts are 
also built in which food is deposited for their use,^ In the 
island of Nias, to prevent the depredations of wandering 
spirits among the rice at harvest, a miniature field is dedicated 

^ Zeitschrift des Vereins fur Volks- of Kings, ii. 365. 

kunde, vii. (1897) p. 154. 4 Rgv. Walter Gregor, Notes on the 

2 P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch, und Folk-lore of the North-east of Scotland 
VolksglaubeinSchlesien{l.€\^s\c,i()oy (London, 1881), p. 182. 

1906), ii. 64, § 419. sou /c 

3 W. R. S. Ralston, Songs of the ' ^ee above, pp. 136 sgq. 
Russian People, Second Edition ^ A. Germain, "Note zur Zanzibar 
(London, 1872), pp. 251 sq. As to et la Cote Orientaled'Afrique,"^///Zj/'i« 
Perun, the old Slavonic thunder-god, de la Soci^te de G^ographie{Vdins),Vhme 
see The Magic Art and the Evolution Serie, xvi. (1868) p. 555. 



234 



LIT Y ERSES 



Little fields 
or gardens 
cultivated 
for spirits 
or gods. 



Hence 
perhaps 
we may 
explain the 
dedication 
of sacred 
fields and 
the offering 
of first- 
fruits to 
gods and 
spirits. 



to them and in it are sown all the plants that grow in the 
real fields.^ The Hos, a Ewe tribe of negroes in Togoland, 
observe a similar custom for a similar reason. At the entrance 
to their yam-fields the traveller may see on both sides of the 
path small mounds on which yams, stock-yams, beans, and 
maize are planted and appear to flourish with more than 
usual luxuriance. These little gardens, tended with peculiar 
care, are dedicated to the " guardian gods " of the owner of 
the land ; there he cultivates for their benefit the same 
plants which he cultivates for his own use in the fields ; 
and the notion is that the " guardian gods " will content 
themselves with eating the fruits which grow in their little 
private preserves and will not poach on the crops which are 
destined for human use.^ 

These customs suggest that the little sacred rice-fields 
on which the Kayans of Borneo perform the various 
operations of husbandry in mimicry before they address 
themselves to the real labours of the field,^ may be dedi- 
cated to the spirits of the rice to compensate them for 
the loss they sustain by allowing men to cultivate all 
the rest of the land for their own benefit. Perhaps the 
Rarian plain at Eleusis^ was a spiritual preserve of the 
same kind set apart for the exclusive use of the corn- 
goddesses Demeter and Persephone, It may even be that 
the law which forbade the Hebrews to reap the corners and 
gather the gleanings of the harvest-fields and to strip the 



^ E. Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias 
(Milan, 1890), p. 593. 

^ J. Spieth, Die Etve-Stdmme (Ber- 
lin, 1906), p. 303. In the Central 
Provinces of India " sometimes the 
oldest man in the house cuts the first 
five bundles of the crop and they are 
afterwards left in the fields for the 
birds to eat. And at the end of harvest 
the last one or two sheaves are left 
standing in the field and any one who 
likes can cut and carry them away. In 
some localities the last sheaves are left 
standing in the field and are known as 
barhoia, or the giver of increase. Then 
all the labourers rush together at this 
last patch of corn and tear it up by the 
roots ; everybody seizes as much as he 
can [and] keeps it, the master having 



no share in this patch. After the bar- 
hona has been torn up all the labourers 
fall on their faces to the ground and 
worship the field " (A. E. Nelson, 
Central Provinces Gazetteers, Bilaspur 
District, vol. A, 19 10, p. 75). This 
quotation was kindly sent to me by 
Mr. W. Crooke ; I have not seen the 
original. It seems to shew that in the 
Central Provinces the last corn is left 
standing on the field as a portion for 
the corn-spirit, and that he is believed 
to be immanent in it ; hence the name 
of " the giver of increase " bestowed on 
it, and the eagerness with which other 
people, though not the owner of the 
land, seek to appropriate it. 

3 See above, pp. 93 sq. 

■* See above, pp. 36, 74- 



VII KILLING THE CORN-SPIRIT 235 

vines of their last grapes ^ was originally intended for the 
benefit, not of the human poor, but of the poor spirits of 
the corn and the vine, who had just been despoiled by the 
reapers and the vintagers, and who, if some provision were 
not made for their subsistence, would naturally die of hunger 
before another year came round. In providing for their 
wants the prudent husbandman was really consulting his 
own interests ; for how could he expect to reap wheat and 
barley and to gather grapes next year if he suffered the 
spirits of the corn and of the vine to perish of famine in 
the meantime ? This train of thought may possibly explain 
the wide-spread custom of offering the first-fruits of the 
crops to gods or spirits : ^ such offerings may have been 
originally not so much an expression of gratitude for benefits 
received as a means of enabling the benefactors to continue 
their benefactions in time to come. Primitive man has 
generally a shrewd eye to the main chance : he is more 
prone to provide for the future than to sentimentalise over 
the past. 

Thus when the spirit of vegetation is conceived as Passing 
a being who is robbed of his store and impoverished treated'^as 
by the harvesters, it is natural that his representative the spirit 
— the passing stranger — should upbraid them ; and it niadder- 
is equally natural that they should seek to disable him roots. 
from pursuing them and recapturing the stolen property. 
Now, it is an old superstition that by easing nature on the 
spot where a robbery is committed, the robbers secure 
themselves, for a certain time, against interruption.^ Hence 
when madder-diggers resort to this proceeding in presence 
of the stranger whom they have caught and buried in the 
field, we may infer that they consider themselves robbers 
and him as the person robbed. Regarded as such, he must 
be the natural owner of the madder-roots, that is, their 
spirit or demon ; and this conception is carried out by 

1 Leviticus, xix. 9 sq., xxiii. 22; Der deutsche Volksaberglaube'^ (Berlin, 
Deuteronomy, xxiv. 19-21. 1869), p. 254, § 400; M. Toppen, 

o „ , , Abeixlaube atis Mastiren"^ (Danzig, 

2 See above, pp. 46 sq., 53 sqq., ^g^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^,5^^ j^ ^^f^ 

and below, vol. a. pp. 109 sqq. , fj"^ -t /ttt 

, vv -y 11 and acted upon in Japan (L. Hearn, 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, 'London, 
Forschungen, pp. 49 sq. ; A. Wuttke, 1904, ii. 603). 



236 



LITYERSES 



Killing 
of the 
personal 
repre- 
sentative 
of the 
corn-spirit. 



burying him, like the madder-roots, in the ground.^ The 
Greeks, it may be observed, were quite familiar with the 
idea that a passing stranger may be a god. Homer says 
that the gods in the likeness of foreigners roam up and 
down cities.^ Once in Poso, a district of Celebes, when a new 
missionary entered a house where a number of people were 
gathered round a sick man, one of them addressed the new- 
comer in these words : " Well, sir, as we had never seen 
you before, and you came suddenly in, while we sat here by 
ourselves, we thought it was a spirit." ^ 

Thus in these harvest-customs of modern Europe the 
person who cuts, binds, or threshes the last corn is treated as 
an embodiment of the corn-spirit by being wrapt up in 
sheaves, killed in mimicry by agricultural implements, and 
thrown into the water.^ These coincidences with the 
Lityerses story seem to prove that the latter is a genuine 
description of an old Phrygian harvest-custom. But since in 
the modern parallels the killing of the personal representative 
of the corn-spirit is necessarily omitted or at most enacted 
only in mimicry, it is desirable to shew that in rude society 
human beings have been commonly killed as an agricultural 
ceremony to promote the fertility of the fields. The following 
examples will make this plain. 



Human 
sacrifices 
for the 
crops in 
South and 
Central 
America. 



^ 3. Human Sacrifices for the Crops 

The Indians of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, used to sacrifice 
human blood and the hearts of men when they sowed their 
fields.^ The people of Canar (now Cuenca in Ecuador) used 
to sacrifice a hundred children annually at harvest. The 
kings of Quito, the Incas of Peru, and for a long time the 
Spaniards were unable to suppress the bloody rite.^ At a 



* The explanation of the custom is 
W. Mannhardt's {Mythologische For- 
schtingen, p. 49). 

2 Odyssey, xvii. 485 sqq. Compare 
Plato, Sophist, p. 216 A. 

^ A. C. Kruijt, " Mijne eerste 
ervaringen te Poso," Mededeelingen 
van wege het Nederlandsche Zendeling- 
genootschap, xxxvi. (1892) p. 402. 

* For throwing him into the water, 



see p. 225. 

^ Cieza de Leon, Travels, trans- 
lated by C. R. Markham, p. 203 
(Hakluyt Society, London, 1864). 

** Juan de Velasco, Histoire du 
Royaume de Quito, i. (Paris, 1840) pp. 
121 sq. (Ternaux- Com pans, Voyages, 
Relations et Mt^moires Originaux pottr 
servir h F Histoii-e de la Dicouverte de 
PAm^Hque, vol. xviii. ). 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 237 

Mexican harvest-festival, when the first-fruits of the season 
were offered to the sun, a criminal was placed between two 
immense stones, balanced opposite each other, and was 
crushed by them as they fell together. His remains were 
buried, and a feast and dance followed. This sacrifice was 
known as " the meeting of the stones." ^ " Tlaloc was 
worshipped in Mexico as the god of the thunder and the 
storm which precedes the fertilising rain ; elsewhere his wife 
Xochiquetzal, who at Tlaxcallan was called Matlalcuey^ or 
the Lady of the Blue Petticoats, shared these honours, and 
it was to her that many countries in Central America 
particularly paid their devotions. Every year, at the time 
when the cobs of the still green and milky maize are about 
to coagulate and ripen, they used to sacrifice to the goddess 
four young girls, chosen among the noblest families of the 
country ; they were decked out in festal attire, crowned with 
flowers, and conveyed in rich palanquins to the brink of the 
hallowed waters, where the sacrifice was to be offered. 
The priests, clad in long floating robes, their heads encircled 
with feather crowns, marched in front of the litters carrying 
censers with burning incense. The town of Elopango, 
celebrated for its temple, was near the lake of the same 
name, the etymology of which refers to the sheaves of tender 
maize {elotl, 'sheaf of tender maize'). It was dedicated to 
the goddess Xochiquetzal, to whom the young victims were 
offered by being hurled from the top of a rock into the 
abyss. At the moment of consummating this inhuman rite, 
the priests addressed themselves in turn to the four virgins 
in order to banish the fear of death from their minds. They 
drew for them a bright picture of the delights they were 
about to enjoy in the company of the gods, and advised 
them not to forget the earth which they had left behind, but 
to entreat the divinity, to whom they despatched them, to 
bless the forthcoming harvest." ^ We have seen that the 
ancient Mexicans also sacrificed human beings at all the 

1 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire ^ Brasseur de Bourbourg, "Aper9us 

des Nations civilisies du Alexiqtte et d'un voyage dans les Etats de San- 

de V Amiriqtie Centrale (Paris, 1857- Salvador et de Guatemala," Bulletin 

1859), i. 274 ; H. H. Bancroft, Native de la Society de G^og}-apkie (Paris), 

Races of the Pacific States (London, IVeme Serie, xiii. (1857) pp. 278 

1875- 1876), ii. 340. sq. 



238 LIT VERSES CHAP. 

various stages in the growth of the maize, the age of the 
victims corresponding to the age of the corn ; for they 
sacrificed new-born babes at sowing, older children when 
the grain had sprouted, and so on till it was fully ripe, 
when they sacrificed old men.^ No doubt the corre- 
spondence between the ages of the victims and the state 
of the corn was supposed to enhance the efficacy of the 
sacrifice. 
Human The Pawnees annually sacrificed a human victim in 

forthe^^ spring when they sowed their fields. The sacrifice was 
crops believed to have been enjoined on them by the Morning 

Pawnees.^^ Star, or by a certain bird which the Morning Star had sent 
to them as its messenger. The bird was stuffed and pre- 
served as a powerful talisman. They thought that an 
omission of this sacrifice would be followed by the total 
failure of the crops of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The 
victim was a captive of either sex. He was clad in the 
gayest and most costly attire, was fattened on the choicest 
food, and carefully kept in ignorance of his doom. When 
he was fat enough, they bound him to a cross in the presence 
of the multitude, danced a solemn dance, then cleft his head 
with a tomahawk and shot him with arrows. According to 
one trader, the squaws then cut pieces of flesh from the 
victim's body, with which they greased their hoes ; but this 
was denied by another trader who had been present at the 
ceremony. Immediately after the sacrifice the people pro- 
ceeded to plant their fields, A particular account has been 
preserved of the sacrifice of a Sioux girl by the Pawnees in 
April 1837 or 1838. The girl was fourteen or fifteen years 
old and had been kept for six months and well treated. 
Two days before the sacrifice she was led from wigwam to 
wigwam, accompanied by the whole council of chiefs and 
warriors. At each lodge she received a small billet of wood 
and a little paint, which she handed to the warrior next to 
her. In this way she called at every wigwam, receiving at 
each the same present of wood and paint. On the twenty- 
second of April she was taken out to be sacrificed, attended 
by the warriors, each of whom carried two pieces of wood 

1 Herrera, quoted byA. Baslian, Z)/^ 1878), ii. 379 5?. See Adonis, Attis, 
Culhir lander lies alten Amerika{^&r\m, Osiris, Second Edition, pp. 33S sq. 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 239 

which he had received from her hands. Her body having 
been painted half red and half black, she was attached to a 
sort of gibbet and roasted for some time over a slow fire, then 
shot to death with arrows. The chief sacrificer next tore 
out her heart and devoured it. While her flesh was still 
warm it was cut in small pieces from the bones, put in little 
baskets, and taken to a neighbouring corn-field. There the 
head chief took a piece of the flesh from a basket and 
squeezed a drop of blood upon the newly-deposited grains of 
corn. His example was followed by the rest, till all the seed 
had been sprinkled with the blood ; it was then covered up 
with earth. According to one account the body of the victim 
was reduced to a kind of paste, which was rubbed or sprinkled 
not only on the maize but also on the potatoes, the beans, 
and other seeds to fertilise them. By this sacrifice they 
hoped to obtain plentiful crops.^ 

A West African queen used to sacrifice a man and Human 
woman in the month of March. They were killed with for'the^^ 
spades and hoes, and their bodies buried in the middle of a crops in 
field which had just been tilled.^ At Lagos in Guinea it 
was the custom annually to impale a young girl alive soon 
after the spring equinox in order to secure good crops. 
Along with her were sacrificed sheep and goats, which, with 
yams, heads of maize, and plantains, were hung on stakes on 
each side of her. The victims were bred up for the purpose 
in the king's seraglio, and their minds had been so powerfully 
wrought upon by the fetish men that they went cheerfully to 

1 'E.]ames, Account of an Exf edition of collecting wood took place on the 

from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains morning of the sacrifice. Another 

(London, 1823), ii. 80 sq. ; H. R. description of the sacrifice is given by 

Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes of the United Mr. G. B. Grinnellfrom the recollection 

States (Philadelphia, 1853-1856), v. oi sxi e\e-vi'iiVi&&% (Pawnee Hero Stories 

77 sqq. ; J. De Smet, in Annales de la ajui Folk-tales, New York, 1889, pp. 

Propagation de la Foi, xi. (1838) pp. 362-369). According to this last 

493 sq. ; id., in Annales de la Propaga- account the victim was shot with arrows 

tion de la Foi, xv. (1843) pp. 277-279 ; and afterwards burnt. Before the body 

id.. Voyages aux Montagnes Rocheuses, was consumed in the fire a man pulled 

Nouvelle Edition (Paris and Brussels, out the arrows, cut open the breast of 

1873), PP- 121 sqq. The accounts by the victim, and having smeared his face 

Schoolcraft and De Smet of the sacrifice with the blood ran away as fast as he 

of the Sioux girl are independent and could, 
supplement each other. According to 

De Smet, who wrote from the descrip- '^ J. B. Labat, Relation historiqjie 

tions of four eye-witnesses, the pro- de V Ethiopie occidentale (Paris, 1732), 

cession from hut to hut for the purpose i. 380. 



Africa. 



240 LIT VERSES chap. 

their fate.^ A similar sacrifice used to be annually offered 
at Benin, in Guinea.^ The Marimos, a Bechuana tribe, 
sacrifice a human being for the crops. The victim chosen 
is generally a short, stout man. He is seized by violence 
or intoxicated and taken to the fields, where he is killed 
amongst the wheat to serve as " seed " (so they phrase it). 
After his blood has coagulated in the sun, it is burned along 
with the frontal bone, the flesh attached to it, and the brain ; 
the ashes are then scattered over the ground to fertilise it. 
The rest of the body is eaten.^ The Wamegi of the Usagara 
hills in German East Africa used to offer human sacrifices 
of a peculiar kind once a year about the time of harvest, 
which was also the time of sowing ; for the Wamegi have 
two crops annually, one in September and one in February. 
The festival was usually held in September or October. 
The victim was a girl who had attained the age of puberty. 
She was taken to a hill where the festival was to be 
celebrated, and there she was crushed to death between two 
branches.* The sacrifice was not performed in the fields, 
and my informant could not ascertain its object, but we may 
conjecture that it was to ensure good crops in the following 
year. 
Human The Bagobos of Mindanao, one of the Philippine Islands, 

forthe^^ offer a human sacrifice before they sow their rice. The victim 
crops in the is a slave, who is hewn to pieces in the forest.^ The 
Dine's^ natives of Bontoc, a province in the interior of Luzon, 
one of the Philippine Islands, are passionate head-hunters. 
Their principal seasons for head-hunting are the times 
of planting and reaping the rice. In order that the 
crop may turn out well, every farm must get at least one 
human head at planting and one at sowing. The head- 
hunters go out in twos or threes, lie in wait for the victim, 

1 John Adams, Sketches taken during custom has probably long been obsolete. 
Ten Voyages in Africa between the years * From information given me by 
jySb and j8oo (London, N.D.), p. my friend the Rev. John Roscoe, who 
25. resided for some time among the 

2 P. Bouche, La Cote des Esclaves Wamegi and suppressed the sacrifice 
(Paris, 1885), p. 132. in 1886. 

3 T. Arbousset et F. Daumas, ^ F. Blumentritt, " Das Stromgebiet 
Voyage (L exploration au Nord-est de des Rio Grande de Mindanao," Peter- 
la Colonie du Cap de Bonne- Espirance manns Mitteilungen, xxxvii. (1891) 
(Paris, 1842), pp. 117 sq. The p. no. 



pmes. 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 241 

whether man or woman, cut off his or her head, hands, and 
feet, and bring them back in haste to the village, where they 
are received with great rejoicings. The skulls are at first 
exposed on the branches of two or three dead trees which 
stand in an open space of every village surrounded by large 
stones which serve as seats. The people then dance round 
them and feast and get drunk. When the flesh has decayed 
from the head, the man who cut it off takes it home and 
preserves it as a relic, while his companions do the same 
with the hands and the feet.^ Similar customs are observed 
by the Apoyaos, another tribe in the interior of Luzon.^ 

The Wild Wa, an agricultural tribe on the north- Human 
eastern frontier of Upper Burma, still hunt for human ^^^ jhe^^ 
heads as a means of promoting the welfare of the crops, crops 
The Wa regards his skulls as a protection against the wild Wa^ 
powers of evil. " Without a skull his crops would fail ; of Burma. 
without a skull his kine might die ; without a skull the 
father and mother spirits would be shamed and might be 
enraged ; if there were no protecting skull the other spirits, 
who are all malignant, might gain entrance and kill the 
inhabitants, or drink all the liquor." The Wa country is 
a series of mountain ranges shelving rapidly down to narrow 
valleys from two to five thousand feet deep. The villages 
are all perched high on the slopes, some just under the 
crest of the ridge, some lower down on a small projecting 
spur of flat ground. Industrious cultivation has cleared 
away the jungle, and the villages stand out conspicuously 
in the landscape as yellowish-brown blotches on the hill- 
sides. Each village is fortified by an earthen rampart so 
thickly overgrown with cactuses and other shrubs as to be 
impenetrable. The only entrance is through a narrow, low, 
and winding tunnel, the floor of which, for additional 
security, is thickly studded with pegs to wound the feet of 
enemies who might attempt to force a way in. The Wa 
depend for their subsistence mainly on their crops of 



^ A. Schadenberg, " Beitrage zur ftir Etknologie, xx. i{ 

Kenntniss der im Innern Nordluzons - Schadenberg, in Verhandlungen 

lebenden Stamme," Verhandlungen der der Berliner Gesellschaft fiir Anthropo- 

Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthropo- logie, Eth^tologie und Urgcschichte, 

logic, Ethnologie und Urgcschichte, 1889, p. (681) (bound with Zeitschrift 

1888, p. (39) (bound with Zeitschrift fiir Ethnologie, xxi. 1889). 

PT. V. VOL. I R 



242 LIT Y ERSES chap. 

buckwheat, beans, and maize ; rice they cultivate only to 
distil a strong spirituous liquor from it. They had need be 
industrious, for no field can be reached without a climb up 
or down the steep mountain-side. Sometimes the rice-fields 
lie three thousand feet or more below the village, and they 
require constant attention. But the chief crop raised by 
the Wa is the poppy, from which they make opium. In 
February and March the hill-tops for miles are white 
with the blossom, and you may travel for days through 
nothing but fields of poppies. Then, too, is the proper 
season for head-hunting. It opens in March and lasts 
through April. Parties of head-hunters at that time go 
forth to prowl for human prey. As a rule they will not 
behead people of a neighbouring village nor even of any 
village on the same range of hills. To find victims they go 
to the next range or at any rate to a distance, and the 
farther the better, for the heads of strangers are preferred. 
The reason is that the ghosts of strangers, being unfamiliar 
with the country, are much less likely to stray away from 
their skulls ; hence they make more vigilant sentinels than 
the ghosts of people better acquainted with the neighbour- 
hood, who are apt to go off duty without waiting for the 
tedious formality of relieving guard. When head-hunters 
return to a village with human heads, the rejoicing is 
uproarious. Then the great drum is beaten frantically, 
and its deep hollow boom resounding far and wide through 
the hills announces to the neighbourhood the glad tidings of 
murder successfully perpetrated. Then the barrels, or rather 
the bamboos, of rice-spirit are tapped, and while the genial 
stream flows and the women and children dance and sing 
for glee, the men drink themselves blind and mad drunk. 
The ghastly head, which forms the centre of all this 
rejoicing, is first taken to the spirit-house, a small shed 
which usually stands on the highest point of the village 
site. There, wrapt in grass or leaves, it is hung up in 
a basket to ripen and bleach. When all the flesh and 
sinews have mouldered away and nothing remains but the 
blanched and grinning skull, it is put to rest in the village 
Golgotha. This is an avenue of huge old trees, whose inter- 
lacing boughs form a verdant archway overhead and, with the 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 243 

dense undergrowth, cast a deep shadow on the ground below. 
Every village has such an avenue stretching along the hill- 
side sometimes for a long distance, or even till it meets the 
avenue of the neighbouring village. In the solemn gloom 
of this verdurous canopy is the Place of Skulls. On one side 
of the avenue stands a row of wooden posts, usually mere 
trunks of trees with the bark peeled off, but sometimes 
rudely carved and painted with designs in red and black. 
A little below the top of each post is cut a niche, and in 
front of the niche is a ledge. On this ledge the skull 
is deposited, sometimes so that it is in full view of 
passers-by in the avenue, sometimes so that it only grins 
at them through a slit. Most villages count their skulls by 
tens or twenties, but some of them have hundreds of these 
trophies, especially when the avenue forms an unbroken 
continuity of shade between the villages. The old skulls 
ensure peace to the village, but at least one new one should 
be taken every year, that the rice may grow green far down 
in the depths of the valley, that the maize may tinge with 
its golden hue the steep mountain-sides, and that the hill- 
tops may be white for miles and miles with the bloom of 
the poppy.^ 

The Shans of Indo-China still believe in the efficacy of Human 
human sacrifice to procure a good harvest, though they act for'the'^^ 
on the belief less than some other tribes of this region, crops 
Their practice now is to poison somebody at the state shans^of^ 
festival, which is generally held at some time between March indo-China 
and May." Among the Lhota Naga, one of the many xagas and 
savage tribes who inhabit the deep rugged labyrinthine glens "''^^^ '"^^^ 
which wind into the mountains from the rich valley of 
Brahmapootra,^ it used to be a common custom to chop 
off the heads, hands, and feet of people they met with, 
and then to stick up the severed extremities in their 
fields to ensure a good crop of grain. They bore no 

^ (Sir) J. G. Scott and J. P. of the Anthropological Institute, xxvi. 

Hardiman, Gazetteer of Upper (1897) p. 24. 

Buri/ta and the Sha?t States {Rangoon, '^ For a general description of the 

1 900- 1 901), Part i. vol. i. pp. 493- country and the tribes see L. A. 

509. Waddell, " The Tribes of the Brahma- 

2 Col. R. G. Woodthorpe, " Some putra \a.\\ty," Journal of the Asiatic 

Account of the Shans and Hill Tribes Society of Bengal, Ixix. Part iii. 

of the States on the Mekong, "y(7«r«a/ (Calcutta, 1901), pp. 1-127. 



244 



LITYERSES 



ill-will whatever to the persons upon whom they operated 
in this unceremonious fashion. Once they flayed a 
boy alive, carved him in pieces, and distributed the flesh 
among all the villagers, who put it into their corn-bins to 
avert bad luck and ensure plentiful crops of grain. The 
Angami, another tribe of the same region, used also to relieve 
casual passers-by of their heads, hands, and feet, with the 
same excellent intention.^ The hill tribe Kudulu, near 
Vizagapatam in the Madras Presidency, offered human 
sacrifices to the god Jankari for the purpose of obtaining 
good crops. The ceremony was generally performed on the 
Sunday before or after the Pongal feast. For the most part 
the victim was purchased, and until the time for the sacrifice 
came he was free to wander about the village, to eat and 
drink what he liked, and even to lie with any woman he 
met. On the appointed day he was carried before the 
idol drunk ; and when one of the villagers had cut a hole 
in his stomach and smeared the blood on the idol, the 
crowds from the neighbouring villages rushed upon him 
and hacked him to pieces. All who were fortunate enough 
to secure morsels of his flesh carried them away and pre- 
sented them to their village idols." The Gonds of India, a 
Dravidian race, kidnapped Brahman boys, and kept them as 
victims to be sacrificed on various occasions. At sowing and 
reaping, after a triumphal procession, one of the lads was 
slain by being punctured with a poisoned arrow. His blood 
was then sprinkled over the ploughed field or the ripe crop, 
and his flesh was devoured.^ The Oraons or Uraons of 
Chota Nagpur worship a goddess called Anna Kuari, who 
can give good crops and make a man rich, but to induce her 
to do so it is necessary to offer human sacrifices. In spite 
of the vigilance of the British Government these sacrifices are 
said to be still secretly perpetrated. The victims are poor 
waifs and strays whose disappearance attracts no notice. 
April and May are the months when the catchpoles are out 
on the prowl. At that time strangers will not go about the 

^ Miss G. M. Godden, " Naga and ^ North Indian Notes and Queries, 

other Frontier Tribes of North-Eastern i. p. 4, § 15 (April 1891). 

India," Journal of the Anthropological ^ Punjab Notes and Queries, ii. pp. 

Institute, xxvii. (1898) pp. 9 sq., l%sq. 127 sq., § 721 (May 1885). 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 245 

country alone, and parents will not let their children enter 
the jungle or herd the cattle. When a catchpole has found 
a victim, he cuts his throat and carries away the upper 
part of the ring finger and the nose. The goddess takes up 
her abode in the house of any man who has offered her a 
sacrifice, and from that time his fields yield a double harvest. 
The form she assumes in the house is that of a small child. 
When the householder brings in his unhusked rice, he takes 
the goddess and rolls her over the heap to double its size. 
But she soon grows restless and can only be pacified with 
the blood of fresh human victims.^ 

But the best known case of human sacrifices, systematic- Human 
ally offered to ensure good crops, is supplied by the fQr?he^^ 
Khonds or Kandhs, another Dravidian race in Bengal. Our crops 
knowledge of them is derived from the accounts written by Khonls. ^ 
British officers who, about the middle of the nineteenth 
century, were engaged in putting them down.^ The sacrifices 
were offered to the Earth Goddess, Tari Pennu or Bera 
Pennu, and were believed to ensure good crops and immunity 
from all disease and accidents. In particular, they were 
considered necessary in the cultivation of turmeric, the 
Khonds arguing that the turmeric could not have a deep red 
colour without the shedding of blood.^ The victim or Meriah, 
as he was called, was acceptable to the goddess only if he 
had been purchased, or had been born a victim — that is, the 
son of a victim father, or had been devoted as a child 
by his father or guardian. Khonds in distress often 
sold their children for victims, " considering the beatifica- 
tion of their souls certain, and their death, for the benefit of 
mankind, the most honourable possible." A man of the 
Panua tribe was once seen to load a Khond with curses, 
and finally to spit in his face, because the Khond had sold 
for a victim his own child, whom the Panua had wished to 

1 Rev. P. Dehon, S.J., "Religion Compare Mgr. Neyret, Bishop of Viza- 
and Customs of the Uraons," Memoirs gapatam, in Annates de la Propagation 
of ike Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. i. de la Poi, xxiii. (185 1) pp. 402-404 ; 
No. 9 (Calcutta, 1906), pp. 141 sq. E. Thurston, Ethnographic Notes on 

2 Major S. C. Macpherson, Me- Southern India (Madras, 1906), pp. 
morials of Service in India (London, 510-519; id., Castes and Tribes of 
1865), pp. I13-131 ; Major-General Southern India (Madras, 1909), iii. 
John Campbell, Wild Tribes of Khon- 371-385. 

distan (London, 1864), pp. 52-58, etc. ^ j_ Campbell, op. cit. p. 56. 



246 LIT VERSES chap. 

marry. A party of Khonds, who saw this, immediately 
pressed forward to comfort the seller of his child, saying, 
" Your child has died that all the world may live, and the 
Earth Goddess herself will wipe that spittle from your face." ^ 
The victims were often kept for years before they were 
sacrificed. Being regarded as consecrated beings, they were 
treated with extreme affection, mingled with deference, and 
were welcomed wherever they went. A Meriah youth, on 
attaining maturity, was generally given a wife, who was her- 
self usually a Meriah or victim ; and with her he received 
a portion of land and farm-stock. Their offspring were 
also victims. Human sacrifices were offered to the Earth 
Goddess by tribes, branches of tribes, or villages, both at 
periodical festivals and on extraordinary occasions. The 
periodical sacrifices were generally so arranged by tribes and 
divisions of tribes that each head of a family was enabled, at 
least once a year, to procure a shred of flesh for his fields, 
generally about the time when his chief crop was laid 
down." 
Cere- The mode of performing these tribal sacrifices was as 

"^°"'^^ follows. Ten or twelve days before the sacrifice, the victim 

preliminary •' ' 

to the was devoted by cutting off his hair, which, until then, had 
sacri ce. ]^qq^ kept unshom. Crowds of men and women assembled 
to witness the sacrifice ; none might be excluded, since the 
sacrifice was declared to be for all mankind. It was pre- 
ceded by several days of wild revelry and gross debauchery.^ 
On the day before the sacrifice the victim, dressed in a new 
garment, was led forth from the village in solemn procession, 
with music and dancing, to the Meriah grove, a clump of 
high forest trees standing a little way from the village and 
untouched by the axe. There they tied him to a post, which 
was sometimes placed between two plants of the sankissar 
shrub. He was then anointed with oil, ghee, and turmeric, 
and adorned with flowers ; and " a species of reverence, 
which it is not easy to distinguish from adoration," was paid 
to him throughout the day. A great struggle now arose to 
obtain the smallest relic from his person ; a particle of the 

' S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. pp. W] sq.', J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 112. 
'IS-*'?- ^ S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. pp. 

^ S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. pp. 117 sq. 



vn HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 247 

turmeric paste with which he was smeared, or a drop of his 
spittle, was esteemed of sovereign virtue, especially by the 
women.^ The crowd danced round the post to music, and, 
addressing the earth, said, " O God, we offer this sacrifice to 
you ; give us good crops, seasons, and health " ; then speak- 
ing to the victim they said, " We bought you with a price, 
and did not seize you ; now we sacrifice you according to 
custom, and no sin rests with us." ^ 

On the last morning the orgies, which had been scarcely Consum- 
interrupted during the night, were resumed, and continued "^^the" 
till noon, when they ceased, and the assembly proceeded to sacrifice. 
consummate the sacrifice. The victim was again anointed 
with oil, and each person touched the anointed part, and 
wiped the oil on his own head. In some places they took 
the victim in procession round the village, from door to door, 
where some plucked hair from his head, and others begged 
for a drop of his spittle, with which they anointed their 
heads.^ As the victim might not be bound nor make any 
show of resistance, the bones of his arms and, if necessary, 
his legs were broken ; but often this precaution was rendered 
unnecessary by stupefying him with opium.^ The mode of 
putting him to death varied in different places. One of the 
commonest modes seems to have been strangulation, or 
squeezing to death. The branch of a green tree was cleft 
several feet down the middle ; the victim's neck (in other 
places, his chest) was inserted in the cleft, which the priest, 
aided by his assistants, strove with all his force to close.^ 
Then he wounded the victim slightly with his axe, whereupon 
the crowd rushed at the wretch and hewed the flesh from the 
bones, leaving the head and bowels untouched. Sometimes 
he was cut up alive.® In Chinna Kimedy he was dragged 
along the fields, surrounded by the crowd, who, avoiding his 
head and intestines, hacked the flesh from his body with 
their knives till he died." Another very common mode of 

1 S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p. 118. Campbell mentions two strong planks 

2 J. Campbell, op. cit. pp. 54 sq. o' bamboos (p. 57) or a slit bamboo 

3 J. Campbell, op. cit. pp. 55, 112. ^^ 6 j^^J^ampbell, op. cit. pp. 56, 58, 
* S. C. Macpherson, op. ctt. p. x-zo. 

119; J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 113. 7 e. T. Dalton, Descriptive Ethno- 

^ S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p. 127. logy of Bengal {Q'zXcwXi'x, 1872), p. 288, 
Instead of the branch of a green tree, quoting Colonel Campbell's Report. 



fields. 



248 LIT VERSES CHAP. 

sacrifice in the same district was to fasten the victim to the 
proboscis of a wooden elephant, which revolved on a stout 
post, and, as it whirled round, the crowd cut the flesh from 
the victim while life remained. In some villages Major 
Campbell found as many as fourteen of these wooden 
elephants, which had been used at sacrifices.-^ In one dis- 
trict the victim was put to death slowly by fire. A low 
stage was formed, sloping on either side like a roof; upon it 
they laid the victim, his limbs wound round with cords to 
confine his struggles. Fires were then lighted and hot 
brands applied, to make him roll up and down the slopes of 
the stage as long as possible ; for the more tears he shed the 
more abundant would be the supply of rain. Next day the 
body was cut to pieces.^ 
Flesh of The flesh cut from the victim was instantly taken home 

the victim ^^ ^^ pcrsons who had been deputed by each village to 
fertilise the bring it. To secure its rapid arrival, it was sometimes 
forwarded by relays of men, and conveyed with postal fleet- 
ness fifty or sixty miles.^ In each village all who stayed at 
home fasted rigidly until the flesh arrived. The bearer 
deposited it in the place of public assembly, where it was 
received by the priest and the heads of families. The priest 
divided it into two portions, one of which he offered to the 
Earth Goddess by burying it in a hole in the ground with 
his back turned, and without looking. Then each man 
added a little earth to bury it, and the priest poured water 
on the spot from a hill gourd. The other portion of flesh 
he divided into as many shares as there were heads of 
houses present. Each head of a house rolled his shred of 
flesh in leaves, and buried it in his favourite field, placing it 
in the earth behind his back without looking.* In some 

* J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 126. The omen of rain (B. de Sahagun, Histoire 

elephant represented the Earth God- generate des Choses de la No'uvelle Es- 

dess herself, who was here conceived pagne, traduite par D. Jourdanet et R. 

in elephant-form (Campbell, «>/. «V. pp. Simeon, Paris, 1880, bk. ii. ch. 20, 

51,126). In the iiill tracts of Goomsur p. 86). 

she was represented in peacock-form, , ^.T.Yiz^Kox,, Descriptive Ethnology^ 

and the post to which the victim was ,f j^ i ^88, referring to Colonel 

bound bore the effigy of a peacock Campbell's .^./<7r/. 
(Campbell, op. ctt. p. 54). ^ 

2 S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p. 130. * S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p. 129. 

In Mexico also the tears of the human Compare J. Campbell, op. cit. pp. 55, 

victims were sometimes regarded as an 58, 113, 121, 187. 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 249 

places each man carried his portion of flesh to the stream 
which watered his fields, and there hung it on a pole.^ For 
three days thereafter no house was swept ; and, in one 
district, strict silence was observed, no fire might be given 
out, no wood cut, and no strangers received. The remains 
of the human victim (namely, the head, bowels, and bones) 
were watched by strong parties the night after the sacrifice ; 
and next morning they were burned, along with a whole 
sheep, on a funeral pile. The ashes were scattered over 
the fields, laid as paste over the houses and granaries, or 
mixed with the new corn to preserve it from insects.^ 
Sometimes, however, the head and bones were buried, not 
burnt.^ After the suppression of the human sacrifices, in- 
ferior victims were substituted in some places ; for instance, 
in the capital of Chinna Kimedy a goat took the place of 
a human victim.^ Others sacrifice a buffalo. They tie it 
to a wooden post in a sacred grove, dance wildly round it 
with brandished knives, then, falling on the living animal, 
hack it to shreds and tatters in a few minutes, fighting and 
struggling with each other for every particle of flesh. As 
soon as a man has secured a piece he makes ofl" with it at 
full speed to bury it in his fields, according to ancient 
custom, before the sun has set, and as some of them have far 
to go they must run very fast. All the women throw clods 
of earth at the rapidly retreating figures of the men, some of 
them taking very good aim. Soon the sacred grove, so 
lately a scene of tumult, is silent and deserted except for a 
few people who remain to guard all that is left of the buffalo, 
to wit, the head, the bones, and the stomach, which are 
burned with ceremony at the foot of the stake.'^ 

In these Khond sacrifices the Meriahs are represented in these 
by our authorities as victims ofiered to propitiate the Earth sacrifices 
Goddess. But from the treatment of the victims both the human 
before and after death it appears that the custom cannot appear to 
be explained as merely a propitiatory sacrifice. A part of have been 

regarded as 

the flesh certainly was offered to the Earth Goddess, but the divine. 

1 J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 1S2. * J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 187. 

2 S. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p, 

128 ; E. T. Dalton, Descriptive Eth- * E. Thurston, Castes and Tribes of 

nology of Bengal, p. 288. Soidhern India (Madras, 1909), iii. 

3 J. Campbell, op. cit. pp. 55, 182. 381-385. 



250 LIT Y ERSES chap. 

rest was buried by each householder in his fields, and the 
ashes of the other parts of the body were scattered over the 
fields, laid as paste on the granaries, or mixed with the new 
corn. These latter customs imply that to the body of the 
Meriah there was ascribed a direct or intrinsic power of 
making the crops to grow, quite independent of the indirect 
efficacy which it might have as an offering to secure the 
good-will of the deity. In other words, the flesh and ashes 
of the victim were believed to be endowed with a magical or 
physical power of fertilising the land. The same intrinsic 
power was ascribed to the blood and tears of the Meriah, 
his blood causing the redness of the turmeric and his tears 
producing rain ; for it can hardly be doubted that, originally 
at least, the tears were supposed to bring down the rain, not 
merely to prognosticate it. Similarly the custom of pouring 
water on the buried flesh of the Meriah was no doubt a rain- 
charm. Again, magical power as an attribute of the Meriah 
appears in the sovereign virtue believed to reside in any- 
thing that came from his person, as his hair or spittle. The 
ascription of such power to the Meriah indicates that he was 
much more than a mere man sacrificed to propitiate a deity. 
Once more, the extreme reverence paid him points to the 
same conclusion. Major Campbell speaks of the Meriah as 
" being regarded as something more than mortal," ^ and 
Major Macpherson says, " A species of reverence, which it is 
not easy to distinguish from adoration, is paid to him." ^ In 
short, the Meriah seems to have been regarded as divine. 
As such, he may originally have represented the Earth 
Goddess or, perhaps, a deity of vegetation ; though in later 
times he came to be regarded rather as a victim offered to a 
deity than as himself an incarnate god. This later view of 
the Meriah as a victim rather than a divinity may perhaps 
have received undue emphasis from the European writers 
who have described the Khond religion. Habituated to the 
later idea of sacrifice as an offering made to a god for the 
purpose of conciliating his favour, European observers are 
apt to interpret all religious slaughter in this sense, and to 
suppose that wherever such slaughter takes place, there must 
necessarily be a deity to whom the carnage is believed by 
^ J. Campbell, op. cit. p. 112. 23. C. Macpherson, op. cit. p. 118. 



VII HUMAN SACRIFICES FOR THE CROPS 251 

the slayers to be acceptable. Thus their preconceived ideas 
may unconsciously colour and warp their descriptions of 
savage rites. 

The same custom of killing the representative of a god, Traces of 
of which strong traces appear in the Khond sacrifices, may ficadon"f 
perhaps be detected in some of the other human sacrifices the human 
described above. Thus the ashes of the slaughtered Marimo the'^cTin 
were scattered over the fields ; the blood of the Brahman other 
lad was put on the crop and field ; the flesh of the slain 
Naga was stowed in the corn-bin ; and the blood of the 
Sioux girl was allowed to trickle on the seed.^ Again, the 
identification of the victim with the corn, in other words, 
the view that he is an embodiment or spirit of the corn, is 
brought out in the pains which seem to be taken to secure 
a physical correspondence between him and the natural 
object which he embodies or represents. Thus the Mexicans 
killed young victims for the young corn and old ones for the 
ripe corn ; the Marimos sacrifice, as " seed," a short, fat man, 
the shortness of his stature corresponding to that of the 
young corn, his fatness to the condition which it is desired 
that the crops may attain ; and the Pawnees fattened their 
victims probably with the same view. Again, the identi- 
fication of the victim with the corn comes out in the African 
custom of killing him with spades and hoes, and the Mexican 
custom of grinding him, like corn, between two stones. 

One more point in these savage customs deserves to be 
noted. The Pawnee chief devoured the heart of the Sioux 
girl, and the Marimos and Gonds ate the victim's flesh. If, 
as we suppose, the victim was regarded as divine, it follows 
that in eating his flesh his worshippers believed themselves 
to be partaking of the body of their god. 

8 4. The Corn-spirit slain tn his Human Representatives 

The barbarous rites just described offer analogies to the Analogy 
harvest customs of Europe. Thus the fertilising virtue barbarous 
ascribed to the corn-spirit is shewn equally in the savage "tes to the 
custom of mixing the victim's blood or ashes with the seed- customs of 
corn and the European custom of mixing the grain from Europe. 
' Above, pp. 239, 240, 244. 



252 LITYERSES chap. 

the last sheaf with the young corn in spring.-^ Again, the 
identification of the person with the corn appears alike in 
the savage custom of adapting the age and stature of the 
victim to the age and stature, whether actual or expected, of 
the crop ; in the Scotch and Styrian rules that when the corn- 
spirit is conceived as the Maiden the last corn shall be cut 
by a young maiden, but when it is conceived as the Corn- 
mother it shall be cut by an old woman ; " in the Lothringian 
warning given to old women to save themselves when the 
Old Woman is being killed, that is, when the last corn 
is being threshed ; ^ and in the Tyrolese expectation that 
if the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is tall, 
the next year's corn will be tall also.* Further, the same 
identification is implied in the savage custom of killing the 
representative of the corn-spirit with hoes or spades or by 
grinding him between stones, and in the European custom of 
pretending to kill him with the scythe or the flail. Once 
more the Khond custom of pouring water on the buried flesh 
of the victim is parallel to the European customs of pouring 
water on the personal representative of the corn-spirit or 
plunging him into a stream.^ Both the Khond and the 
European customs are rain-charms. 
Human To return now to the Lityerses story. It has been 

trve^oTthe shewn that in rude society human beings have been com- 
corn-spirit monly killed to promote the growth of the crops. There is 
harvest- therefore no improbability in the supposition that they may 
field. once have been killed for a like purpose in Phrygia and 

Europe ; and when Phrygian legend and European folk- 
custom, closely agreeing with each other, point to the con- 
clusion that men were so slain, we are bound, provisionally 
at least, to accept the conclusion. Further, both the Lityerses 
story and European harvest-customs agree in indicating that 
the victim was put to death as a representative of the corn- 
spirit, and this indication is in harmony with the view which 
some savages appear to take of the victim slain to make the 
crops flourish. On the whole, then, we may fairly suppose 
that both in Phrygia and in Europe the representative of 

1 Above, p. 134. * Above, p. 224. 

2 Above, pp. 134, 157 m- . ' ^^r^\l 7°'7:^^^^^ references 

) t-f jt! 0/ // vciTvQX.^^; Adonis, Attis,Onrts,'$>^zo'!\A 

3 Above, p. 223. Edition, pp. 1 95- 197. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 253 

the corn-spirit was annually killed upon the harvest-field. 
Grounds have been already shewn for believing that similarly 
in Europe the representative of the tree-spirit was annually 
slain. The proofs of these two remarkable and closely 
analogous customs are entirely independent of each other. 
Their coincidence seems to furnish fresh presumption in 
favour of both. 

To the question, How was the representative of the corn- The victim 
spirit chosen ? one answer has been already Sfiven. Both ^^^^° repre- 

1 T • 1 T- r 11 sen ted the 

the Lityerses story and European folk-custom shew that corn-spirit 
passing strangers were regarded as manifestations of the ^^^ ^^^^ 
corn-spirit escaping from the cut or threshed corn, and as passing 
such were seized and slain. But this is not the only answer f^''^"^'^'' °'" 

-' the reaper, 

which the evidence suggests. According to the Phrygian binder, or 
legend the victims of Lityerses were not simply passing of The '^'^ 
strangers, but persons whom he had vanquished in a reap- last corn. 
ing contest and afterwards wrapt up in corn-sheaves and 
beheaded.^ This suggests that the representative of the 
corn-spirit may have been selected by means of a com- 
petition on the harvest-field, in which the vanquished 
competitor was compelled to accept the fatal honour. 
The supposition is countenanced by European harvest- 
customs. We have seen that in Europe there is sometimes 
a contest amongst the reapers to avoid being last, and that 
the person who is vanquished in this competition, that is, 
who cuts the last corn, is often roughly handled. It is true 
we have not found that a pretence is made of killing him ; 
but on the other hand we have found that a pretence is 
made of killing the man who gives the last stroke at thresh- 
ing, that is, who is vanquished in the threshing contest.^ 
Now, since it is in the character of representative of the 
corn -spirit that the thresher of the last corn is slain in 
mimicry, and since the same representative character attaches 
(as we have seen) to the cutter and binder as well as to the 
thresher of the last corn, and since the same repugnance is 
evinced by harvesters to be last in any one of these labours, 
we may conjecture that a pretence has been commonly made 
of killing the reaper and binder as well as the thresher of the 
last corn, and that in ancient times this killing was actually 
1 See above, p. 217. - Above, p. 224. 



254 



LIT VERSES 



Perhaps 
the victim 
annually 
sacrificed 
in the 
character 
of the 
corn-spirit 
may have 
been the 
king 
himself. 



carried out. This conjecture is corroborated by the common 
superstition that whoever cuts the last corn must die soon.^ 
Sometimes it is thought that the person who binds the last 
sheaf on the field will die in the course of next year.^ The 
reason for fixing on the reaper, binder, or thresher of the 
last corn as the representative of the corn-spirit may be this. 
The corn-spirit is supposed to lurk as long as he can in the 
corn, retreating before the reapers, the binders, and the 
threshers at their work. But when he is forcibly expelled 
from his refuge in the last corn cut or the last sheaf bound 
or the last grain threshed, he necessarily assumes some other 
form than that of the corn-stalks which had hitherto been his 
garment or body. And what form can the expelled corn- 
spirit assume more naturally than that of the person who 
stands nearest to the corn from which he (the corn-spirit) 
has just been expelled ? But the person in question is 
necessarily the reaper, binder, or thresher of the last corn. 
He or she, therefore, is seized and treated as the corn-spirit 
himself 

Thus the person who was killed on the harvest-field as 
the representative of the corn-spirit may have been either 
a passing stranger or the harvester who was last at reaping, 
binding, or threshing. But there is a third possibility, to 
which ancient legend and modern folk-custom alike point. 
Lityerses not only put strangers to death ; he was himself 
slain, and apparently in the same way as he had slain others, 
namely, by being wrapt in a corn-sheaf, beheaded, and cast 
into the river ; and it is implied that this happened to 
Lityerces on his own land.^ Similarly in modern harvest- 
customs the pretence of killing appears to be carried out 
quite as often on the person of the master (farmer or squire) 
as on that of strangers.^ Now when we remember that 
Lityerses was said to have been a son of the King of 
Phrygia, and that in one account he is himself called a king, 
and when we combine with this the tradition that he was 
put to death, apparently as a representative of the corn- 
spirit, we are led to conjecture that we have here another 

^ 'W.yi.zx\n\\:i.rdi,DieA'oniddi)ioncn, ^ Above, p. 217. It is not ex- 

p. 5- pressly said that lie was wrapt in a 

2 H. Pfannenschmid, Germanische sheaf. 

Eifttefeste (Hanover, 1878), p. 98. ^ Above, pp. 225 sq., 229 sq. 



vji CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 255 

trace of the custom of annually slaying one of those divine 
or priestly kings who are known to have held ghostly sway 
in many parts of Western Asia and particularly in Phrygia. 
The custom appears, as we have seen/ to have been so far 
modified in places that the king's son was slain in the king's 
stead. Of the custom thus modified the story of Lityerses 
would be, in one version at least, a reminiscence. 

Turning now to the relation of the Phrygian Lityerses Relation of 
to the Phrygian Attis, it may be remembered that at Pessinus J^' auTs*^^ 
— the seat of a priestly kingship — the high-priest appears both may 
to have been annually slain in the character of Attis, a god origtnanT 
of vegetation, and that Attis was described by an ancient corn- 
authority as " a reaped ear of corn." ^ Thus Attis, as an the"on'e°a 
embodiment of the corn-spirit, annually slain in the person corn-spirit 
of his representative, might be thought to be ultimately other a 
identical with Lityerses, the latter being simply the rustic tree-spirit. 
prototype out of which the state religion of Attis was 
developed. It may have been so ; but, on the other hand, 
the analogy of European folk-custom warns us that amongst 
the same people two distinct deities of vegetation may have 
their separate personal representatives, both of whom are 
slain in the character of gods at different times of the year. 
For in Europe, as we have seen, it appears that one man 
was commonly slain in the character of the tree-spirit in 
spring, and another in the character of the corn-spirit in 
autumn. It may have been so in Phrygia also. Attis was 
especially a tree-god, and his connexion with corn may have 
been only such an extension of the power of a tree-spirit as 
is indicated in customs like the Harvest-May.^ Again, the 
representative of Attis appears to have been slain in spring ; 
whereas Lityerses must have been slain in summer or 
autumn, according to the time of the harvest in Phrygia.^ 
On the whole, then, while we are not justified in regarding 
Lityerses as the prototype of Attis, the two may be regarded 
as parallel products of the same religious idea, and may have 
stood to each other as in Europe the Old Man of harvest 

^ See The Dying God, pp. 160 sqq. ■* I do not know when the corn is 

^ See Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second reaped in Phrygia ; but the high upland 

Edition, pp. 231 sqq., 239 sq. character of the country makes it likely 

^ See The Magic Art and the Evolit- that harvest is later there than on the 

tion of Kings, ii. 47 sqq. coasts of the Mediterranean. 



256 LIT VERSES chap. 

stands to the Wild Man, the Leaf Man, and so forth, of 
Human Spring. Both were spirits or deities of vegetation, and the 
representa- personal representatives of both were annually slain. But 
ofLityerses whereas the Attis worship became elevated into the dignity 
and Attis ^f ^ State religion and spread to Italy, the rites of Lityerses 
sia?n.^ ' seem never to have passed the limits of their native Phrygia, 
and always retained their character of rustic ceremonies per- 
formed by peasants on the harvest-field. At most a few 
villages may have clubbed together, as amongst the Khonds, 
to procure a human victim to be slain as representative of the 
corn-spirit for their common benefit. Such victims may have 
been drawn from the families of priestly kings or kinglets, 
which would account for the legendary character of Lityerses 
as the son of a Phrygian king or as himself a king. When 
villages did not so club together, each village or farm may 
have procured its own representative of the corn-spirit by 
dooming to death either a passing stranger or the harvester 
who cut, bound, or threshed the last sheaf. Perhaps in the 
olden time the practice of head-hunting as a means of pro- 
moting the growth of the corn may have been as common 
among the rude inhabitants of Europe and Western Asia as 
it still is, or was till lately, among the primitive agricultural 
' tribes of Assam, Burma, the Philippine Islands, and the 
Indian Archipelago.^ It is hardly necessary to add that in 
Phrygia, as in Europe, the old barbarous custom of killing 
a man on the harvest-field or the threshing-floor had doubt- 
less passed into a mere pretence long before the classical era, 

1 See above, pp. 240 sqq. ; and Frontier Tribes of North-East India," 

Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, Journal of the Ajithropological Institute, 

pp. 247-249. As to head-hunting in xxvii. (1898) pp. 12-17. It niust not, 

British Borneo see H. L. Roth, The however, be thought that among these 

Natives of Saraiuak and British North tribes the custom of procuring human 

Bortteo (LonAon, 1896), ii. i/^O sqq.; in heads is practised merely as a means 

Central Celebes, see A. C. Kruijt, to ensure the growth of the crops ; it is 

" Het koppensnellen der Toradja's van apparently supposed to exert a salutary 

Midden-Celebes, en zijne Beteekenis," influence on the whole life of the people 

Verslagen en Mededeelingen der konin- by providing them with guardian spirits 

klijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, in the shape of the ghosts of the men 

Afdeelung Letterkunde, Vierde Reeks, to whom in their lifetime the heads 

iii. part 2 (Amsterdam, 1899), pp. 147- belonged. The Scythians of Central 

229 ; among the Igorot of Bontoc in Europe in antiquity set great store on 

Luzon, see A. E. Jenks, The Bontoc the heads of the enemies whom they 

Igorot (Manilla, 1 905), pp. 172 sqq. ; had slain in war. See Herodotus, 

among the Naga tribes of Assam, see iv. 64 sq. 
Miss G. M. Godden, " Naga and other 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 257 

and was probably regarded by the reapers and threshers 
themselves as no more than a rough jest which the license 
of a harvest-home permitted them to play off on a passing 
stranger, a comrade, or even on their master himself.^ 

I have dwelt on the Lityerses song at length because it similarity 
affords so many points of comparison with European and githy^nian 
savage folk-custom. The other harvest songs of Western Bormus 
Asia and Egypt, to which attention has been called above,^ Phrygian 
may now be dismissed much more briefly. The similarity Attis. 
of the Bithynian Bormus ^ to the Phrygian Lityerses helps to 
bear out the interpretation which has been given of the 
latter. Bormus, whose death or rather disappearance was 
annually mourned by the reapers in a plaintive song, was, 
like Lityerses, a king's son or at least the son of a wealthy 
and distinguished man. The reapers whom he watched 
were at work on his own fields, and he disappeared in going 
to fetch water for them ; according to one version of the 
story he was carried off by the nymphs, doubtless the 
nymphs of the spring or pool or river whither he went to 
draw water.* Viewed in the light of the Lityerses story 
and of European folk-custom, this disappearance of Bormus 
may be a reminiscence of the custom of binding the 
farmer himself in a corn-sheaf and throwing him into the 
water. The mournful strain which the reapers sang was 
probably a lamentation over the death of the corn-spirit, 
slain either in the cut corn or in the person of a human 
representative ; and the call which they addressed to him 
may have been a prayer that he might return in fresh vigour 
next year. 

The Phoenician Linus song was sung at the vintage, at The 
least in the west of Asia Minor, as we learn from Homer ; Linur^ong 
and this, combined with the legend of Syleus, suggests that at the 
in ancient times passing strangers were handled by vintagers ° ' 
and vine-diggers in much the same way as they are said to 
have been handled by the reaper Lityerses. The Lydian 

1 There are traces in Greece itself of Greek States, ii. (Oxford, 1S96) p. 455 ; 

an old custom of sacrificing human and The Dying God, pp. 161 iq. 
victims to promote the fertility of the 2 Above pp. 215 so. 

earth. See Pausanias, vii. 19. 3 j^. 

compared with vii. 20. i ; id., viii. Above, p. 216. 

53. 3 ; L. R. Farnell, The Cults of the * Hesychius, s.v. HQpnoi'. 

PT. V. VOL. I S 



258 LIT VERSES CHAP. 

Syleus, so ran the legend, compelled passers-by to dig for 

him in his vineyard, till Hercules came and killed him and 

dug up his vines by the roots.^ This seems to be the outline 

of a legend like that of Lityerses ; but neither ancient writers 

nor modern folk-custom enable us to fill in the details.^ 

But, further, the Linus song was probably sung also by 

Phoenician reapers, for Herodotus compares it to the 

Maneros song, which, as we have seen, was a lament raised 

Linus by Egyptian reapers over the cut corn. Further, Linus was 

identified identified with Adonis, and Adonis has some claims to be 

Adonis, regarded as especially a corn-deity.^ Thus the Linus 

who may lament, as sung at harvest, would be identical with the 

have been ' ° 

annually Adonis lament ; each would be the lamentation raised by 
represented j.ga,pers over the dead spirit of the corn. But whereas Adonis, 
human like Attis, grew into a stately figure of mythology, adored 
victim. ^^^ mourned in splendid cities far beyond the limits of his 
Phoenician home, Linus appears to have remained a simple 
ditty sung by reapers and vintagers among the corn-sheaves 
and the vines. The analogy of Lityerses and of folk-custom, 
both European and savage, suggests that in Phoenicia the 
slain corn-spirit — the dead Adonis — may formerly have 
been represented by a human victim ; and this suggestion 
is possibly supported by the Harran legend that Tammuz 
(Adonis) was slain by his cruel lord, who ground his bones 
in a mill and scattered them to the wind. For in Mexico, 
as we have seen, the human victim at harvest was crushed be- 
tween two stones ; and both in Africa and India the ashes or 
other remains of the victim were scattered over the fields.* But 
the Harran legend may be only a mythical way of express- 
ing the grinding of corn in the mill and the scattering of the 
seed. It seems worth suggesting that the mock king who was 
annually killed at the Babylonian festival of the Sacaea on 
the sixteenth day of the month Lous may have represented 
Tammuz himself. For the historian Berosus, who records 
the festival and its date, probably used the Macedonian 

1 Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, ii. 6. 3. Forschiuigen, pp. 53 sq. 

2 The scurrilities exchanged both in ,„ ^ 1 ■ a ■ ^ ■ ■ ^ 
ancient and modern times between ^^^^ Adorns Aths, Onns, Second 
vine-dressers, vintagers, and passers-by Edition, pp. 188 sqq. 

seem to belong to a diflerent category. * Above, pp. 236 sq., 240, 243, 

See W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 244, 248 sq. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 259 

calendar, since he dedicated his history to Antiochus Soter ; 
and in his day the Macedonian month Lous appears to have 
corresponded to the Babylonian month Tammuz.^ If this 
conjecture is right, the view that the mock king at the Sacaea 
was slain in the character of a god would be established. 
But to this point we shall return later on. 

There is a good deal more evidence that in Egypt the The corn- 
slain corn-spirit — the dead Osiris — was represented by a g'"''" 
human victim, whom the reapers slew on the harvest-field, (Osiris) 
mourning his death in a dirge, to which the Greeks, through represented 
a verbal misunderstanding, gave the name of Maneros.^ For by a human 
the legend of Busiris seems to preserve a reminiscence of ^"^ ""' 
human sacrifices once offered by the Egyptians in connexion 
with the worship of Osiris. Busiris was said to have been 
an Egyptian king who sacrificed all strangers on the altar 
of Zeus. The origin of the custom was traced to a dearth 
which afflicted the land of Egypt for nine years. A Cyprian 
seer informed Busiris that the dearth would cease if a man 
were annually sacrificed to Zeus. So Busiris instituted the 
sacrifice. But when Hercules came to Egypt, and was being 
dragged to the altar to be sacrificed, he burst his bonds 
and slew Busiris and his son.^ Here then is a legend that 
in Egypt a human victim was annually sacrificed to prevent 

1 The probable correspondence of Herodotus (ii. 45) discredits the idea 
the months, which supplies so welcome that the Egyptians ever offered human 
a confirmation of the conjecture in the sacrifices. But his authority is not to 
text, was pointed out to me by my be weighed against that of Manetho 
friend W. Robertson Smith, who fur- (Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 73), who 
nished me with the following note : affirms that they did. See further 
"In the Syro- Macedonian calendar Dr. E. A. Wallis Budge, Osiris and 
Lous represents Ab, not Tammuz. the Egyptian Restn-rection (London 
Was Jt different in Babylon? I think and New York, 1911), i. 210 sqq., 
it was, and one month different, at who says (pp. 210, 212): " There is 
least in the early times of the Greek abundant proof for the statement that 
monarchy in Asia. For we know the Egyptians offered up sacrifices of 
from a Babylonian observation in the human beings, and that, in common 
Almagest {Ideler, i. 396) that in 22Q with many African tribes at the present 
B.C. Xanthicus began on February 26. day, their customs in dealing with 
It was therefore the month before the vanquished enemies were bloodthirsty 
equinoctial moon, not Nisan but Adar, and savage. . . . The passages from 
and consequently Lous answered to the Egyptian works quoted earlier in this 
lunar month Tammuz." chapter prove that human sacrifices 

2 Above, p. 215. were offered up at Heliopolis as well 
^ Apollodorus, Bibliotkeca, ii. 5- ^^ at Tetu, or Busiris, and the rumour 

1 1 ; Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, of such sacrifices has found expression 
Argon, iv. 1396 ; Plutarch, Parall. 38. in the works of Greek writers." 



26o LIT VERSES chap. 

the failure of the crops, and a belief is implied that an 
omission of the sacrifice would have entailed a recurrence of 
that infertility which it was the object of the sacrifice to 
prevent. So the Pawnees, as we have seen, believed that an 
omission of the human sacrifice at planting would have been 
followed by a total failure of their crops. The name Busiris 
was in reality the name of a city, pe-Asar, " the house of 
Osiris," ^ the city being so called because it contained the 
grave of Osiris. Indeed some high modern authorities 
believe that Busiris was the original home of Osiris, from 
which his worship spread to other parts of Egypt.^ The 
human sacrifices were said to have been offered at his grave, 
and the victims were red-haired men, whose ashes were 
scattered abroad by means of winnowing-fans.^ This tradi- 
tion of human sacrifices offered at the tomb of Osiris is 
confirmed by the evidence of the monuments ; for "we find 
in the temple of Dendereh a human figure with a hare's 
head and pierced with knives, tied to a stake before Osiris 
Khenti-Amentiu, and Horus is shown in a Ptolemaic sculpture 
at Karnak killing a bound hare-headed figure before the 
bier of Osiris, who is represented in the form of Harpocrates. 
That these figures are really human beings with the head of 
an animal fastened on is proved by another sculpture at 
Dendereh, where a kneeling man has the hawk's head and 
wings over his head and shoulders, and in another place a 
priest has the jackal's head on his shoulders, his own head 
appearing through the disguise. Besides, Diodorus tells us 
that the Egyptian kings in former times had worn on their 
heads the fore-part of a lion, or of a bull, or of a dragon, 

^ E. Meyer, Geschichte des Alter- i. 2. p. 70). I am happy to find the 

turns, i. (Stuttgart, 1884), § 57, view of the nature of Osiris, which I 

p. 68. advocated many years ago, supported 

2 E. Meyer, Geschichte des Alter- by the authority of so distinguished an 

tums^ i. 2 (Stuttgart and Berlin, Oriental scholar. Dr. E. A. Wallis 

1909), p. 97 ; G. Maspero, Histoire Budge holds that Busiris was the 

Ancienne des Peicples de POriejit Clas- oldest shrine of Osiris in the north of 

sique, Les Origines (Paris, 1895), pp. Egypt, but that it was less ancient 

12() sgg. Both these eminent historians than his shrine at Abydos in the south, 

have abandoned their former theory See E. A. Wallis Budge, Osiris and 

that Osiris was the Sun-god. Professor the Egyptia7i Resurrection (London 

E. Meyer now speaks of Osiris as " the and New York, 191 1), ii. i. 
great vegetation god " and, on the ^ Diodorus Siculus, i. 88 ; Plutarch, 

same page, as "an earth-god" [op. cit. /sis et Osiris, 73, compare 30, 33. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 261 

showing that this method of disguise or transformation was 
a well-known custom."^ 

In the light of the foregoing discussion the Egyptian Assimiia- 
tradition of Busiris admits of a consistent and fairly prob- I'°" °^ 

, . /^ • • 1 human 

able explanation. Osiris, the corn-spirit, was annually victims to 
represented at harvest by a stranger, whose red hair made *^u 'f'u 
him a suitable representative of the ripe corn. This man, represent. 
in his representative character, was slain on the harvest-field, 
and mourned by the reapers, who prayed at the same time 
that the corn-spirit might revive and return {tndd-ne-rha, 
Maneros) with renewed vigour in the following year. Finally, 
the victim, or some part of him, was burned, and the ashes 
scattered by winnowing-fans over the fields to fertilise them. 
Here the choice of the victim on the ground of his resem- 
blance to the corn which he was to represent agrees with 
the Mexican and African customs already described.^ 
Similarly the woman who died in the character of the Corn- 
mother at the Mexican midsummer sacrifice had her face 
painted red and yellow in token of the colours of the corn, 
and she wore a pasteboard mitre surmounted by waving 
plumes in imitation of the tassel of the maize.^ On the 
other hand, at the festival of the Goddess of the White 
Maize the Mexicans sacrificed lepers.* The Romans sacri- 
ficed red-haired puppies in spring to avert the supposed 
blighting influence of the Dog-star, believing that the crops 
would thus grow ripe and ruddy.^ The heathen of Harran 
offered to the sun, moon, and planets human victims who 
were chosen on the ground of their supposed resemblance 
to the heavenly bodies to which they were sacrificed ; for 
example, the priests, clothed in red and smeared with blood, 
offered a red-haired, red -cheeked man to "the red planet 

^ Margaret A. Murray, The Osireion World called America, i. (Oxford, 

at Abydos (London, 1904), p. 30, 1S92) p. 422. 

referring to Mariette, Dendereh, iv. * Brasseur de Bourbourg, Htstoire 

plates xxxi.,lvi., and Ixxxi. The passage des Nations civilis^es du Mexique et 

of Diodorus Siculus referred to is i. de P Amirique Centrale (Paris, 1857- 

62. 4. As to masks of animals worn 1859), iii. 535- 

by Egyptian men and women in reli- ^ Festus, s.v. Catularia, p. 45 ed. 

gious rites see The RIagic Art and the C. O. Mtiller. Compare id., s.v. 

Evolution of Kings, ii. 133; The Ridilae canes, p. 285; Columella, De 

Dying God, p. 72. re rustica, x. 342 sq. ; Ovid, Fasti, iv. 

2 Above, pp. 237 sq., 240, 251. 905 sqq. ; Pliny, Nat. Hist, xviii. 

3 E, J. Payne, History of the New 14. 



262 



LITYERSES 



victims 
scattered 
over the 
fields to 
fertilise 
them. 



Mars " in a temple which was painted red and draped with 
red hangings.'^ These and the Hke cases of assimilating the 
victim to the god, or to the natural phenomenon which he 
represents, are based ultimately on the principle of homoeo- 
pathic or imitative magic, the notion being that the object 
aimed at will be most readily attained by means of a sacrifice 
which resembles the effect that it is designed to bring about. 
Remains of Again, the scattering of the Egyptian victim's ashes over 
the fields resembles the Marimo and Khond custom,^ and the 
use of winnowing-fans for the purpose is another hint of his 
identification with the corn. So in Vendue a pretence is 
made of threshing and winnowing the farmer's wife, regarded 
as an embodiment of the corn-spirit ; in Mexico the victim 
was ground between stones ; and in Africa he was slain with 
spades and hoes.^ The story that the fragments of Osiris's 
body were scattered up and down the land, and buried by 
Isis on the spots where they lay,* may very well be a remin- 
iscence of a custom, like that observed by the Khonds, of 
dividing the human victim in pieces and burying the pieces, 
often at intervals of many miles from each other, in the 
fields.^ However, it is possible that the story of the dis- 
memberment of Osiris, like the similar story told of Tammuz, 
may have been simply a mythical expression for the scatter- 
ing of the seed. Once more, the legend that the body of 
Osiris enclosed in a coffer was thrown by Typhon into the 
Nile, perhaps points to a custom of casting the body of the 
victim, or at least a portion of it, into the Nile as a rain- 
charm, or rather to make the river rise. For a similar 
purpose Phrygian reapers seem to have flung the headless 
bodies of their victims, wrapt in corn-sheaves, into a river, 
and the Khonds poured water on the buried flesh of the 
human victim. Probably when Osiris ceased to be repre- 
sented by a human victim, an image of him was annually 
thrown into the Nile, just as the efifigy of his Syrian counter- 



^ D. Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier und 1894), pp. 77 sq., 357-359. 



der Ssabismus (St. Petersburg, 1856), 
ii. 388 sq. Coinpare ibid., pp. 384 
sq., 386 sq., 391, 393, 395, 397. 
For other instances of the assimilation 
of the victim to the god, see H. Olden- 
berg, Die Religion des Veda (Berlin, 



2 Above, pp. 240, 249. 

3 Above, pp. 149 sq., 237 sq., 239. 
* Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 18. 

^ See above, p. 248 ; and compare 
Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Second Edition, 
pp. 331 sqq. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 263 

part, Adonis, used to be cast into the sea at Alexandria. 
Or water may have been simply poured over it, as on the 
monument already mentioned ^ a priest is seen pouring water 
over the body of Osiris, from which corn-stalks are sprout- 
ing. The accompanying legend, " This is Osiris of the 
mysteries, who springs from the returning waters," bears out 
the view that at the mysteries of Osiris a charm to make 
rain fall or the river rise was regularly wrought by pouring 
water on his effigy or flinging it into the Nile. 

It may be objected that the red-haired victims were The black 
slain as representatives, not of Osiris, but of his enemy o"stis^Hke 
Typhon ; for the victims were called Typhonian, and red the black 
was the colour of Typhon, black the colour of Osiris." The ^emlt!r.° 
answer to this objection must be reserved for the present. 
Meantime it may be pointed out that if Osiris is often 
represented on the monuments as black, he is still more 
commonly depicted as green,^ appropriately enough for a 
corn-god, who may be conceived as black while the seed is 
under ground, but as green after it has sprouted. So the 
Greeks recognised both a Green and a Black Demeter,"* and 
sacrificed to the Green Demeter in spring with mirth and 
gladness.^ 

Thus, if I am right, the key to the mysteries of Osiris is The key 
furnished by the melancholy cry of the Egyptian reapers, n°^.steries 
which down to Roman times could be heard year after year of Osiris 
sounding across the fields, announcing the death of the corn- bv the 
spirit, the rustic prototype of Osiris. Similar cries, as we lamema- 

1111 riir tionsofthe 

have seen, were also heard on all the harvest -nelds 01 reapers for 
Western Asia. By the ancients they are spoken of as songs ; ^^e annual 

■^ -1 ^ T • J deathofthe 

but to judge from the analysis of the names Lmus and corn-spirit. 
Maneros, they probably consisted only of a few words uttered 
in a prolonged musical note which could be heard for a 
great distance. Such sonorous and long-drawn cries, raised 
by a number of strong voices in concert, must have had a 
striking effect, and could hardly fail to arrest the attention 

1 See A dot is, Atiis, Osiris, Second 1878), iii. Si. 

Edition, p. ^2^. , „ • •-,•••, c ••• 

T,^ \ -r T ■ . r^ ■ ■ Pausanias, 1. 22. 3, viu. 5. a, viii. 

2 Plutarch, Iszs et Ostris, 22, 30, . j. j > 

' ' ' -^ 42. 1. 

31. 33> 73- 

3 Sir J. G. Wilkinson, Manners and " Cornutus, Theologiae Grcucae Corn- 
Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (ed. pendium, 28. See above, p. 42. 



264 



LITYERSES 



of any wayfarer who happened to be within hearing. The 
sounds, repeated again and again, could probably be dis- 
tinguished with tolerable ease even at a distance ; but to a 
Greek traveller in Asia or Egypt the foreign words would 
commonly convey no meaning, and he might take them, not 
unnaturally, for the name of some one (Maneros, Linus, 
Lityerses, Bormus) upon whom the reapers were calling. 
And if his journey led him through more countries than one, 
as Bithynia and Phrygia, or Phoenicia and Egypt, while the 
corn was being reaped, he would have an opportunity of 
comparing the various harvest cries of the different peoples. 
Thus we can readily understand why these harvest cries 
were so often noted and compared with each other by the 
Greeks. Whereas, if they had been regular songs, they 
could not have been heard at such distances, and therefore 
could not have attracted the attention of so many travellers ; 
and, moreover, even if the wayfarer were within hearing of 
them, he could not so easily have picked out the words. 

Down to recent times Devonshire reapers uttered cries 
of the same sort, and performed on the field a ceremony 
exactly analogous to that in which, if I am not mistaken, the 
rites of Osiris originated. The cry and the ceremony are 
thus described by an observer who wrote in the first half of 
the nineteenth century. " After the wheat is all cut, on 
most farms in the north of Devon, the harvest people have 
a custom of ' crying the neck.' I believe that this practice 
is seldom omitted on any large farm in that part of the 
country. It is done in this way. An old man, or some one 
else well acquainted with the ceremonies used on the 
occasion (when the labourers are reaping the last field of 
wheat), goes round to the shocks and sheaves, and picks out 
a little bundle of all the best ears he can find ; this bundle 
he ties up very neat and trim, and plats and arranges the 
straws very tastefully. This is called ' the neck ' of wheat, 
or wheaten-ears. After the field is cut out, and the pitcher 
once more circulated, the reapers, binders, and the women 
stand round in a circle. The person with ' the neck ' stands 
in the centre, grasping it with both his hands. He first 
stoops and holds it near the ground, and all the men form- 
ing the ring take off their hats, stooping and holding them 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 265 

with both hands towards the ground. They then all begin 
at once in a very prolonged and harmonious tone to cry 
' The neck ! ' at the same time slowly raising themselves 
upright, and elevating their arms and hats above their heads ; 
the person with ' the neck ' also raising it on high. This is 
done three times. They then change their cry to ' Wee 
yen ! ' — ' Way yen ! ' — which they sound in the same pro- 
longed and slow manner as before, with singular harmony 
and effect, three times. This last cry is accompanied by the 
same movements of the body and arms as in crying ' the 
neck.' . . . After having thus repeated ' the neck ' three 
times, and 'wee yen,' or 'way yen' as often, they all burst 
out into a kind of loud and joyous laugh, flinging up their 
hats and caps into the air, capering about and perhaps 
kissing the girls. One of them then gets ' the neck ' and 
runs as hard as he can down to the farmhouse, where the 
dairymaid, or one of the young female domestics, stands at 
the door prepared with a pail of water. If he who holds 
' the neck ' can manage to get into the house, in any way 
unseen, or openly, by any other way than the door at which 
the girl stands with the pail of water, then he may lawfully 
kiss her ; but, if otherwise, he is regularly soused with the 
contents of the bucket. On a fine still autumn evening the 
* crying of the neck ' has a wonderful effect at a distance, far 
finer than that of the Turkish muezzin, which Lord Byron 
eulogises so much, and which he says is preferable to all the 
bells in Christendom. I have once or twice heard upwards 
of twenty men cry it, and sometimes joined by an equal 
number of female voices. About three years back, on some 
high grounds, where our people were harvesting, I heard six 
or seven ' necks ' cried in one night, although I know that 
some of them were four miles off. They are heard through 
the quiet evening air at a considerable distance sometimes."^ 
Again, Mrs. Bray tells how, travelling in Devonshire, " she 
saw a party of reapers standing in a circle on a rising 
ground, holding their sickles aloft. One in the middle held 
up some ears of corn tied together with flowers, and the 
party shouted three times (what she writes as) ' Arnack, 
arnack, arnack, we haven, we haven, we haven! They went 

^ W. Hone, Every-day Book (London, N.D.), ii. coll. 1170 sq. 



266 LIT VERSES chap. 

home, accompanied by women and children carrying boughs 
of flowers, shouting and singing. The manservant who 
attended Mrs. Bray said 'it was only the people making 
their games, as they always did, to the spirit of harvest'"'^ 
Here, as Miss Burne remarks, " ' arnack, we haven ! ' is 
obviously in the Devon dialect, ' a neck (or nack) ! we have 
un ! '" " The neck " is generally hung up in the farmhouse, 
where it sometimes remains for two or three years.^ A 
similar custom is still observed in some parts of Cornwall, 
as I was told by my lamented friend J. H. Middleton. 
" The last sheaf is decked with ribbons. Two strong- voiced 
men are chosen and placed (one with the sheaf) on opposite 
sides of a valley. One shouts, ' I've gotten it.' The other 
shouts, ' What hast gotten ? ' The first answers, ' I'se gotten 
the neck.' " ^ 

Another account of this old custom, written at Truro in 
1839, runs thus: "Now, when all the corn was cut at 
Heligan, the farming men and maidens come in front of the 
house, and bring with them a small sheaf of corn, the last 
that has been cut, and this is adorned with ribbons and 
flowers, and one part is tied quite tight, so as to look like a 
neck. Then they cry out ' Our (my) side, my side,' as loud 
as they can ; then the dairymaid gives the neck to the head 
farming-man. He takes it, and says, very loudly three times, 
* I have him, I have him, I have him.' Then another farm- 
ing-man shouts very loudly, ' What have ye ? what have ye ? 
what have ye ? ' Then the first says, ' A neck, a neck, a 
neck.' And when he has said this, all the people make a 
very great shouting. This they do three times, and after 
one famous shout go away and eat supper, and dance, and 
sing songs."* According to another account, "all went out 
to the field when the last corn was cut, the ' neck ' was tied 
with ribbons and plaited, and they danced round it, and 
carried it to the great kitchen, where by-and-by the supper 

^ Miss C. S. Burne and Miss G. F. wife remembers the "neck" being 

Jackson, Shropshire Folk-lore (London, kept on the mantelpiece of the parlour 

1883), pp. 372 sq., referring to Mrs. in a Cornish farmhouse; it generally 

Bray's Traditions of Devon, i. 330. stayed there throughout the year. 

2 W. Hone, op. cit, ii. 1172. 

3 The Rev. Sydney Cooper, of 80 * " Old Harvest Customs in Devon 
Gloucester Street, Cirencester, wrote and Cornwall," Folk-lore, i. (1890) p. 
to me (4th February 1893) that his 280. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 267 

was. The words were as given in the previous account, and 
* Hip, hip, hack, heck, I have 'ee, I have 'ee, I have 'ee.' It 
was hung up in the hall." Another account relates that one 
of the men rushed from the field with the last sheaf, while the 
rest pursued him with vessels of water, which they tried to 
throw over the sheaf before it could be brought into the barn.^ 

Similar customs appear to have been formerly observed Cutting 
in Pembrokeshire, as appears from the following account, •^pgl^t'^^ 
in which, however, nothing is said of the sonorous cries brokeshire. 
raised by the reapers when their work was done : " At 
harvest-time, in South Pembrokeshire, the last ears of 
corn left standing in the field were tied together, and the 
harvesters then tried to cut this neck by throwing their 
hatchets at it. What happened afterwards appears to have 
varied somewhat. I have been told by one old man that 
the one who got possession of the neck would carry it over 
into some neighbouring field, leave it there, and take to his 
heels as fast as he could ; for, if caught, he had a rough 
time of it. The men who caught him would shut him up 
in a barn without food, or belabour him soundly, or perhaps 
shoe him, as it was called, beating the soles of his feet with 
rods — a very severe and much -dreaded punishment. On 
my grandfather's farm the man used to make for the house 
as fast as possible, and try to carry in the neck. The maids 
were on the look-out for him, and did their best to drench 
him with water. If they succeeded, they got the present of 
half-a-crown, which my grandfather always gave, and which 
was considered a very liberal present indeed. If the man 
was successful in dodging the maids, and getting the neck 
into the house without receiving the wetting, the half-crown 
became his. The neck was then hung up, and kept until 
the following year, at any rate, like the bunches of flowers 
or boughs gathered at the St. Jean, in the south of France. 
Sometimes the necks of many successive years were to be 
found hanging up together. In these two ways of disposing 
of the neck one sees the embodiment, no doubt, of the two 
ways of looking at the corn-spirit, as good (to be kept) or 
as bad (to be passed on to the neighbour)." ^ 

1 Ibid. Neck Feast," Folk-lore, iv. (1893) p. 

2 Frances Hoggan, M.D., "The 123. In Pembrokeshire the last sheaf 



268 LIT Y ERSES chap. 

Cutting In the foregoing customs a particular bunch of ears, 

"theneck" orenerallv the last left standing,^ is conceived as the neck 

in Shrop- & -^ ... 1,1111 , 

shire. of the corn-spint, who is consequently beheaded when the 

bunch is cut down. Similarly in Shropshire the name 
" neck," or " the gander's neck," used to be commonly given 
to the last handful of ears left standing in the middle of 
the field when all the rest of the corn was cut. It was 
plaited together, and the reapers, standing ten or twenty 
paces off, threw their sickles at it. Whoever cut it through 
was said to have cut off the gander's neck. The " neck " 
was taken to the farmer's wife, who was supposed to keep 
it in the house for good luck till the next harvest came 
round.^ Near Treves, the man who reaps the last standing 
corn " cuts the goat's neck off." ^ At Faslane, on the 
Gareloch (Dumbartonshire), the last handful of standing 
corn was sometimes called the "head."* At Aurich, in 
East Friesland, the man who reaps the last corn " cuts the 
hare's tail off." ^ In mowing down the last corner of a field 
French reapers sometimes call out, " We have the cat by the 
tail." ® In Bresse (Bourgogne) the last sheaf represented the 
fox. Beside it a score of ears were left standing to form 
the tail, and each reaper, going back some paces, threw his 
sickle at it. He who succeeded in severing it "cut off the 
fox's tail," and a cry of " Yoic cou cou ! " was raised in his 
Why the houour." Thcse examples leave no room to doubt the 
last corn meaning of the Devonshire and Cornish expression " the 
called "the ucck," as applied to the last sheaf The corn-spirit is con- 
^^'^^' ceived in human or animal form, and the last standing corn 

is part of its body — its neck, its head, or its tail. Some- 
times, as we have seen, the last corn is regarded as the 
navel-string.^ Lastly, the Devonshire custom of drenching 
with water the person who brings in " the neck " is a rain- 
charm, such as we have had many examples of Its parallel 

of corn seems to have been commonly ^ W. Mannhardc, Mythologisclie 

known as "the Hag" (wrack) rather Forschungen, p. 185. 

than as "the Neck." See above, * See above, p. 158. 

pp. 142-144. s W. Mannhardt, Mythologischc 

^ J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. Forschungen, p. 185. 

20 (Bohn's edition) ; Miss C. S. Burne ^ Ibid. 

and Miss G. F. Jackson, Shropshire '' Revue des Traditions populaires. 

Folk-lore, p. 371. ii. (1887) p. 500. 

- Burne and Jackson, I.e. ** Above, p. 150. 



VII CORN-SPIRIT AND HUMAN REPRESENTATIVES 269 

in the mysteries of Osiris was the custom of pouring water on 
the image of Osiris or on the person who represented him. 

In Germany cries of Waul/ or Wol ! or Wold! are Cries of the 
sometimes raised by the reapers at cutting the last corn. Germany" 
Thus in some places the last patch of standing rye was 
called the Waul-rye ; a stick decked with flowers was in- 
serted in it, and the ears were fastened to the stick. Then 
all the reapers took off their hats and cried thrice, " Waul f 
Waul! Waul!" Sometimes they accompanied the cry by 
clashing with their whetstones on their scythes/ 

* "E. M.e\sr, m Zeitschrift/iirdeutsche aus Westfalen (Leipsic, 1859), ii. pp. 

Mythologie und Sittenkunde, i. (1853) 177 sq., §§ 491, 492 ; A. Kuhn und 

pp. 170-173 ; U. Jahn, Die deutschen W. Schwartz, Norddeidsche Sagen, 

Opfergebrduche bet Ackerban und Vieh- Mdrchcn und Gebrduche{\^&v^^\c, 1848), 

zucht (Breslau, 1884), pp. 166-169; P- 395> § 97 5 K. Lynker, Deutsche 

H. Pfannenschmid, Germanische Emte- Sagen und Sitten in hessischen Gauen 

feste (Hanover, 1878), pp. 104 j^. ; A. (Cassel and Gottingen, j86o), p. 256, 

Kuhn, Sagen, Gebrduche und Mdrchen § 340 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 

^ I. Animal Embodiments of the Corn-Spirit 

The corn- In some of the examples which I have cited to establish 
spirit as an ^y^^ meanins^ of the term " neck " as applied to the last sheaf, 

animal. ° ^ ^^ ' 

the corn-spirit appears in animal form as a gander, a goat, a 

hare, a cat, and a fox. This introduces us to a new aspect 

of the corn-spirit, which we must now examine. By doing 

so we shall not only have fresh examples of killing the god, 

but may hope also to clear up some points which remain 

obscure in the myths and worship of Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 

Dionysus, Demeter, and Virbius. 

The corn- Amongst the many animals whose forms the corn-spirit is 

spirit in the supposed to take are the wolf, dog, hare, fox, cock, goose, quail, 

animal is cat, goat, COW (ox, bull), pig, and horse. In one or other of 

to^be*^^ these shapes the corn-spirit is often believed to be present in the 

present in com, and to be caught or killed in the last sheaf As the corn 

corn^ut or ^^ being cut the animal flees before the reapers, and if a reaper 

threshed, js taken ill on the field, he is supposed to have stumbled 

caught or Unwittingly on the corn-spirit, who has thus punished the 

killed by profane intruder. It is said " the Rye-wolf has got hold of 

or thresher, him," "the Harvest-goat has given him a push." The person 

who cuts the last corn or binds the last sheaf gets the name 

of the animal, as the Rye-wolf, the Rye-sow, the Oats-goat, 

and so forth, and retains the name sometimes for a year. 

Also the animal is frequently represented by a puppet made 

out of the last sheaf or of wood, flowers, and so on, which is 

carried home amid rejoicings on the last harvest-waggon. 

Even where the last sheaf is not made up in animal shape, 

it is often called the Rye-wolf, the Hare, Goat, and so forth. 

270 



CH. VIII ANIMAL EMBODIMENTS OF CORN-SPIRIT 271 

Generally each kind of crop is supposed to have its special 
animal, which is caught in the last sheaf, and called the 
Rye-wolf, the Barley-wolf, the Oats-wolf, the Pea-wolf, or the 
Potato-wolf, according to the crop ; but sometimes the figure 
of the animal is only made up once for all at getting in the 
last crop of the whole harvest. Sometimes the creature is 
believed to be killed by the last stroke of the sickle or scythe. 
But oftener it is thought to live so long as there is corn still 
unthreshed, and to be caught in the last sheaf threshed. 
Hence the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is told 
that he has got the Corn-sow, the Threshing-dog, or the like. 
When the threshing is finished, a puppet is made in the 
form of the animal, and this is carried by the thresher of the 
last sheaf to a neighbouring farm, where the threshing is still 
going on. This again shews that the corn-spirit is believed 
to live wherever the corn is still being threshed. Sometimes 
the thresher of the last sheaf himself represents the animal ; 
and if the people of the next farm, who are still threshing, 
catch him, they treat him like the animal he represents, by 
shutting him up in the pig-sty, calling him with the cries 
commonly addressed to pigs, and so forth. ^ These general 
statements will now be illustrated by examples. 

§ 2. The Corn-spirit as a Wolf or a Dog 

We begin with the corn-spirit conceived as a wolf or The corn- 
a dog. This conception is common in France, Germany, ^^T'' ^^ ^ 

, ) / ) Yvolf or 

and Slavonic countries. Thus, when the wind sets the a dog, 
corn in wave -like motion the peasants often say, " The j^^^.^^^*^^ 
Wolf is going over, or through, the corn," " the Rye- through 
wolf is rushing over the field," " the Wolf is in the corn," 
" the mad Dog is in the corn," " the big Dog is there." ^ 
When children wish to go into the corn-fields to pluck ears 

^ '^.lAzx\xi^dix6.\.,Die Komddmonen O. Hartung, "Zur Volkskunde aus 

(Berlin, 1868), pp. 1-6. Anhalt," Zeitschrift des Vereins fur 

2 W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf und VolLskunde, vii. (1897) p. 150 ; W. 

Roggenhund'^ (Danzig, 1866), pp. 6 Miiller, Beitrdge zur Volkskunde der 

sqq. ; id., Antike Wald- und Feldkulte Deutschen in Mdhren (Vienna and 

(Berlin, 1877), pp. 318 sq. ; id., Olmutz, 1893), p. 327; P. Drechsler, 

Mythologische Forschimgen, p. 103 ; A. Sitte, Branch und Volksglaube in 

Y^iizcheX, Sagen, Sitten und Gebrduche Schlesien (Leipsic, 1903-1906), ii. 

aus ThUringen (Vienna, 1878), p. 213 ; 60. 



272 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
dog at 
reaping 
and 
threshing. 



or gather the blue corn-flowers, they are warned not to do so, 
for " the big Dog sits in the corn," or " the Wolf sits in the 
corn, and will tear you in pieces," " the Wolf will eat you." 
The wolf against whom the children are warned is not a 
common wolf, for he is often spoken of as the Corn-wolf, 
Rye-wolf, or the like ; thus they say, " The Rye-wolf will 
come and eat you up, children," " the Rye-wolf will carry 
you off," and so forth,^ Still he has all the outward appear- 
ance of a wolf For in the neighbourhood of Feilenhof (East 
Prussia), when a wolf was seen running through a field, the 
peasants used to watch whether he carried his tail in the air 
or dragged it on the ground. If he dragged it on the 
ground, they went after him, and thanked him for bringing 
them a blessing, and even set tit-bits before him. But if he 
carried his tail high, they cursed him and tried to kill him. 
Here the wolf is the corn-spirit whose fertilising power is in 
his tail.^ 

Both dog and wolf appear as embodiments of the corn- 
spirit in harvest-customs. Thus in some parts of Silesia the 
person who cuts or binds the last sheaf is called the Wheat- 
dog or the Peas-pug.^ But it is in the harvest-customs of 
the north-east of France that the idea of the Corn-dog comes 
out most clearly. Thus when a harvester, through sickness, 
weariness, or laziness, cannot or will not keep up with the 
reaper in front of him, they say, " The White Dog passed 
near him," " he has the White Bitch," or " the White Bitch 
has bitten him." ^ In the Vosges the Harvest-May is called 
the " Dog of the harvest," ^ and the person who cuts the last 
handful of hay or wheat is said to " kill the Dog," ^ About 
Lons-le-Saulnier, in the Jura, the last sheaf is called the 
Bitch. In the neighbourhood of Verdun the regular expres- 
sion for finishing the reaping is, " They are going to kill the 
Dog " ; and at Epinal they say, according to the crop, " We 
will kill the Wheat-dog, or the Rye-dog, or the Potato- 

Schleden, ii. 64. 

* W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forscktatgen, p. 104. 

^ Ibid. pp. lOi^ sq. On the Harvest- 
May, see The Magic Art and the 
Evolution of Kings, ii. 47 sq. 

^ L. F. Sauve, Folk-lore des Hautes- 
Vosges (Paris, 1889), p. 191. 



^ W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf imd 
Roggenhund,^ pp. 10 sqq. ; id., Antike 
Wald- und Feldkulte, p. 319. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf und 
Roggenhund,^ pp. 14 sq. 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungen, p. 104 ; P. Drechsler, 
Sitte, Branch und Volksirlauhe in 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A WOLF OR A DOG 272, 

dog." ^ In Lorraine it is said of the man who cuts the 
last corn, " He is killing the Dog of the harvest." ^ At 
Dux, in the Tyrol, the man who gives the last stroke at 
threshing is said to " strike down the Dog " ; ^ and at Ahne- 
bergen, near Stade, he is called, according to the crop. 
Corn-pug, Rye-pug, Wheat-pug.^ 

So with the wolf In Silesia, when the reapers gather The corn- 
round the last patch of standing corn to reap it they are ^P'j"'' ^^ ^ 
said to be about " to catch the Wolf" * In various parts of reaping. 
Mecklenburg, where the belief in the Corn-wolf is particularly 
prevalent, every one fears to cut the last corn, because they 
.say that the Wolf is sitting in it ; hence every reaper exerts 
himself to the utmost in order not to be the last, and every 
woman similarly fears to bind the last sheaf because " the 
Wolf is in it." So both among the reapers and the binders 
there is a competition not to be the last to finish.^ And in 
Germany generally it appears to be a common saying that 
" the Wolf sits in the last sheaf" ^ In some places they call 
out to the reaper, " Beware of the Wolf" ; or they say, " He 
is chasing the Wolf out of the corn." ^ In Mecklenburg the 
last bunch of standing corn is itself commonly called the 
Wolf, and the man who reaps it " has the Wolf," the animal 
being described as the Rye-wolf, the Wheat-wolf, the Barley- 
wolf, and so on according to the particular crop. The reaper 
of the last corn is himself called Wolf or the Rye-wolf, if the 
crop is rye, and in many parts of Mecklenburg he has 
to support the character by pretending to bite the other 
harvesters or by howling like a wolf.^ The last sheaf of 
corn is also called the Wolf or the Rye-wolf or the Oats-wolf 
according to the crop, and of the woman who binds it they 
say, " The Wolf is biting her," " She has the Wolf," " She 
must fetch the Wolf" (out of the corn). Moreover, she 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Meklenbiirg (Vienna, 1 879- 1880), ii. 
Forschungen, p. 105. p. 309, § 1496, p. 310, §§ 1497, 

2 Jbid. p. 30. 1498. 

3 Ibid. pp. 30, 105. " W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und 
* Ibid. pp. 105 sg. Feldkulte, p. 320. 

6 P. Drechsler, Sitte, Branch tmd * W. Mannhardt, Roggemvolf und 

Volksglat{beinSchlesien{'Le.\'ps\c, 1903- Koggenhiind,'^ ^^. 33. 

1906), ii. 64. ® W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf und 

6 W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf tmd Roggenhiind," pp. 33 sq. ; K. Bartsch, 

Roggenhund,"^ pp. 33, 39 ; K. Bartsch, op. cit. ii. p. 309, § 1496, p. 310, §§ 

Sagen, Mdrchen und Gebrduche aus 1497, 1500, 1501. 

PT. v. VOL. I T 



274 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

herself is called Wolf; they cry out to her, "Thou art the 
Wolf," and she has to bear the name for a whole year ; 
sometimes, according to the crop, she is called the Rye-wolf 
or the Potato-wolf^ In the island of RUgen not only is the 
woman who binds the last sheaf called Wolf, but when she 
comes home she bites the lady of the house and the 
stewardess, for which she receives a large piece of meat. 
Yet nobody likes to be the Wolf. The same woman may 
be Rye- wolf, Wheat- wolf, and Oats-wolf, if she happens to 
bind the last sheaf of rye, wheat, and oats.^ At Buir, in the 
district of Cologne, it was formerly the custom to give to the 
last sheaf the shape of a wolf. It was kept in the barn till 
all the corn was threshed. Then it was brought to the 
farmer and he had to sprinkle it with beer or brandy.^ At 
Brunshaupten in Mecklenburg the young woman who bound 
the last sheaf of wheat used to take a handful of stalks out 
of it and make "the Wheat-wolf" with them ; it was the 
figure of a wolf about two feet long and half a foot high, the 
legs of the animal being represented by stiff stalks and its 
tail and mane by wheat-ears. This Wheat-wolf she carried 
back at the head of the harvesters to the village, where it 
was set up on a high place in the parlour of the farm and 
remained there for a long time.^ In many places the sheaf 
called the Wolf is made up in human form and dressed in 
clothes. This indicates a confusion of ideas between the 
corn-spirit conceived in human and in animal form. Gener- 
ally the Wolf is brought home on the last waggon with 
joyful cries. Hence the last waggon-load itself receives the 
name of the Wolf.^ 

Again, the Wolf is supposed to hide himself amongst the 
cut corn in the granary, until he is driven out of the last 
bundle by the strokes of the flail. Hence at Wanzleben, 
near Magdeburg, after the threshing the peasants go in pro- 
cession, leading by a chain a man who is enveloped in the 

1 W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf tmd * K. Bartsch, op. cit. ii. p. 311, § 
Roggenhiind,'^ pp. 33, 34. 1505. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Roggenivolf und ^ W. Mannhardt, Roggemcolf jind 
Roggenhttnd,- p. 38; id., Aniike Wald- Roggenhuiid,'^ pp. 35-37 ; K. Bartsch, 
und Feldktdte, p. 320. op. cit. ii. p. 309, § 1496, p. 310, 

3 W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf und §§ 1499, 1 501, p. 31 1, §§ 1506, 
Roggenhimd,'^ pp. 34 sq, 1507. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A WOLF OR A DOG 275 

threshed-out straw and is called the Wolf.^ He represents The corn- 
the corn-spirit who has been caught escaping from the a^^^jf^ 
threshed corn. In the district of Treves it is believed that killed at 
the Corn-wolf is killed at threshing. The men thresh the '^^'^ '"°' 
last sheaf till it is reduced to chopped straw. In this way 
they think that the Corn-wolf, who was lurking in the last 
sheaf, has been certainly killed." 

In France also the Corn-wolf appears at harvest. Thus The corn- 
they call out to the reaper of the last corn, " You will ^rrve^t in 
catch the Wolf" Near Chambery they form a ring round France. 
the last standing corn, and cry, " The Wolf is in there." 
In Finisterre, when the reaping draws near an end, the 
harvesters cry, "There is the Wolf; we will catch him." 
Each takes a swath to reap, and he who finishes first calls 
out, " I've caught the Wolf" ^ In Guyenne, when the last The corn- 
corn has been reaped, they lead a wether all round the field. on'[he''^^'^ 
It is called " the Wolf of the field." Its horns are decked with harvest- 
a wreath of flowers and corn-ears, and its neck and body are 
also encircled with garlands and ribbons. All the reapers 
march, singing, behind it. Then it is killed on the field. In this 
part of France the last sheaf is called the cotijoulage, which, in 
the patois, means a wether. Hence the killing of the wether 
represents the death of the corn-spirit, considered as present 
in the last sheaf ; but two different conceptions of the corn- 
spirit — as a wolf and as a wether — are mixed up together.* 

Sometimes it appears to be thought that the Wolf, The corn- 
caught in the last corn, lives during the winter in the farm- midwinter, 
house, ready to renew his activity as corn-spirit in the spring. 
Hence at midwinter, when the lengthening days begin to 
herald the approach of spring, the Wolf makes his appear- 
ance once more. In Poland a man, with a wolf's skin 
thrown over his head, is led about at Christmas ; or a 
stuffed wolf is carried about by persons who collect money.^ 
There are facts which point to an old custom of leading 
about a man enveloped in leaves and called the Wolf, while 
his conductors collected money.^ 

1 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- itnd * Ibia. pp. 320 sq. 
Feldkulte p. 321. 5 j^.^_ 

- Ibid. pp. 321 sq. ^ "^ 

2 Ibid. p. 320. ® Ibid. p. 323. 



276 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
cock at 
harvest. 



5 3. The Corn-spirit as a Cock 

Another form which the corn-spirit often assumes is that 
of a cock. In Austria children are warned against straying 
in the corn-fields, because the Corn-cock sits there, and will 
peck their eyes out.^ In North Germany they say that " the 
Cock sits in the last sheaf" ; and at cutting the last corn the 
reapers cry, " Now we will chase out the Cock." When it is 
cut they say, " We have caught the Cock." "" At Braller, in 
Transylvania, when the reapers come to the last patch of corn, 
they cry, " Here we shall catch the Cock." ^ At Fiirstenwalde, 
when the last sheaf is about to be bound, the master releases 
a cock, which he has brought in a basket, and lets it run 
over the field. All the harvesters chase it till they catch it. 
Elsewhere the harvesters all try to seize the last corn cut ; 
he who succeeds in grasping it must crow, and is called 
Cock.^ Among the Wends it is or used to be customary 
for the farmer to hide a live cock under the last sheaf as it 
lay on the field ; and when the corn was being gathered up, 
the harvester who lighted upon this sheaf had a right to 
keep the cock, provided he could catch it. This formed the 
close of the harvest-festival and was known as " the Cock- 
catching," and the beer which was served out to the reapers 
at this time went by the name of " Cock-beer." ^ The last 
sheaf is called Cock, Cock-sheaf, Harvest-cock, Harvest-hen, 
Autumn-hen. A distinction is made between a Wheat- 
cock, Bean-cock, and so on, according to the crop.^ At 
Wunschensuhl, in Thiiringen, the last sheaf is made into 
the shape of a cock, and called the Harvest-cock.'^ A 
figure of a cock, made of wood, pasteboard, ears of corn. 



^ W. Mannhardt, Die Komddmonett , 

P- 13- 

2 W. Mannhardt, /.r.; J. H.Schmitz, 
Sitten 2ind Sageii, Lieder, Spriklnv'orter 
iind Rathsei des Eifler Volkes (Treves, 
1856- 1 858), i. 95 ; A. Kuhn und V^. 
Schwartz, No7-ddentsche Sagen, Mdrchen 
imd Gebrduche (Leipsic, 1848), p. 398. 

^ G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten 
und Gebrduche utiter den Sachsen 
Siebenbiirgens (Hermannstadt, 1880), 
p. 21. 



* W. Mannhardt, Die Korndd)iionen, 
p. 13. Compare A. Kuhn and \V. 
Schwartz, I.e. 

° K. Haupt, Sagenbuch der Lausitz 
(Leipsic, 1862-1863), i. p. 232, No. 
277 note. 

6 W. lsla.x\n\\s.xAx., Die Koj nddvionen, 
P- 13- 

^ A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitteti jind 
Gebrduche aus Thiiringen (\^ienna, 
1878), p. 220. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A COCK 277 

or flowers, is borne in front of the harvest-waggon, especially 
in Westphalia, where the cock carries in his beak fruits of 
the earth of all kinds. Sometimes the image of the cock is 
fastened to the top of a May-tree on the last harvest-waggon. 
Elsewhere a live cock, or a figure of one, is attached to a 
harvest-crown and carried on a pole. In Galicia and else- 
where this live cock is fastened to the garland of corn-ears 
or flowers, which the leader of the women-reapers carries on 
her head as she marches in front of the harvest procession.^ 
In Silesia a live cock is presented to the master on a plate. 
The harvest-supper is called Harvest-cock, Stubble-cock, etc., 
and a chief dish at it, at least in some places, is a cock.^ If 
a waggoner upsets a harvest-waggon, it is said that " he has 
spilt the Harvest cock," and he loses the cock, that is, the 
harvest-supper,^ The harvest-waggon, with the figure of 
the cock on it, is driven round the farmhouse before it is 
taken to the barn. Then the cock is nailed over or at the 
side of the house-door, or on the gable, and remains there 
till next harvest* In East Friesland the person who gives 
the last stroke at threshing is called the Clucking-hen, and 
grain is strewed before him as if he were a hen.^ 

Again, the corn-spirit is killed in the form of a cock. The com- 
In parts of Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Picardy the ^^'[1^^ lorm 
reapers place a live cock in the corn which is to be cut last, of a live 
and chase it over the field, or bury it up to the neck in the 
ground ; afterwards they strike off its head with a sickle or 
scythe.^ In many parts of Westphalia, when the harvesters 
bring the wooden cock to the farmer, he gives them a live 

' W. Mannhardt, ZJz'eA'orwaViOTi?;/^/, expression for overthrowing a load at 

pp. 13 sq. ; J. H. Schmitz, Sitten tend harvest is " to lose the goose," and the 

Sageti, Lieder, Spriichwdrter und penalty used to be the loss of the goose 

Hdtksel des EiJierVolkes {Treves, 1856- at the harvest-supper (C. S. Burne and 

1858), i. 95 ; A. Kuhn, Sageti, Ge- G. F. Jackson, Shropshire Folk-lore, 

brduche tmd Mdrchen aus Westfalen London, 1883, p. 375) ; and in some 

(Leipsic, 1859), ii. 180 j^.; H. Pfan- parts of England the harvest-supper was 

nenschmid, Germanische Erntefeste called the Harvest Gosling, or the 

(Hanover, 1878), p. iio. Inning Goose (J. Brand, Popular Anti- 

2 W. Munnhardt, Die A'ornddMotii'H, qtiities, ii. 23, 26, Bohn's edition). 

p. 14; H. Pfannenschmid, op. cit. pp. 4 w. yi2.^x,\i2.xd.^,Die Kornddmomn, 

III, 419^?. p. 14. 

3 W. Mannhardt, Die Kornddmonen, . 

p. 15. So in Shropshire, where the " ^"'^"- P- ^5- 

corn-spirit is conceived in the form of ^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologischc 

a gander (see above, p. 268), the Forschungen, p. 30. 



278 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

cock, which they kill with whips or sticks, or behead with 
an old sword, or throw into the barn to the girls, or give to 
the mistress to cook. If the harvest-cock has not been 
spilt — that is, if no waggon has been upset — the harvesters 
have the right to kill the farmyard cock by throwing stones 
at it or beheading it. Where this custom has fallen into 
disuse, it is still common for the farmer's wife to make 
cockie-leekie for the harvesters, and to shew them the 
head of the cpck which has been killed for the soup.^ In 
the neighbourhood of Klausenburg, Transylvania, a cock is 
buried on th? harvest-field in the earth, so that only its head 
appears. A' young man then takes a scythe and cuts off 
the cock's head at a single sweep. If he fails to do this, 
he is called the Red Cock for a whole year, and people 
fear that next year's crop will be bad.^ Near Udvarhely, 
in Transylvania, a live cock is bound up in the last sheaf 
and killed with a spit. It is then skinned. The flesh 
is thrown away, but the skin and feathers are kept till next 
year ; and in spring the grain from the last sheaf is mixed 
with the feathers of the cock and scattered on the field which 
is to be tilled.^ Nothing could set in a clearer light the 
identification of the cock with the spirit of the corn. By 
being tied up in the last sheaf and killed, the cock is identi- 
fied with the corn, and its death with the cutting of the corn. 
By keeping its feathers till spring, then mixing them with 
the seed-corn taken from the very sheaf in which the bird 
had been bound, and scattering the feathers together with 
the seed over the field, the identity of the bird with the corn 
is again emphasised, and its quickening and fertilising power, 
as an embodiment of the corn-spirit, is intimated in the 
plainest manner. Thus the corn-spirit, in the form of a 
cock, is killed at harvest, but rises to fresh life and activity 
in spring. Again, the equivalence of the cock to the corn is 
expressed, hardly less plainly, in the custom of burying the 
bird in the ground, and cutting off its head (like the ears of 
corn) with the scythe. 

1 W. Mannhardt, Die Korndd/Honej!, ^ W. Mannhardt, Die Ko7-nddmo7ten, 
p. 15. P- 15 ; id,, Mythologische Forschungen, 

2 Ihid. pp. 15 sq. p. 30. 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A HARE 279 



§ 4. The Corn-spirit as a Hare 

Another common embodiment of the corn-spirit is the The corn- 
hare/ In Galloway the reaping of the last standing corn spmtasa 
is called '* cutting the Hare." The mode of cutting it is as harvest, 
follows. When the rest of the corn has been reaped, a 
handful is left standing to form the Hare. It is divided 
into three parts and plaited, and the ears are tied in a knot. 
The reapers then retire a few yards and each throws his or 
her sickle in turn at the Hare to cut it down. It must be 
cut below the knot, and the reapers continue to throw their 
sickles at it, one after the other, until one of them succeeds 
in severing the stalks below the knot. The Hare is then 
carried home and given to a maidservant in the kitchen, who 
places it over the kitchen-door* on the inside. Sometimes 
the Hare used to be thus kept till the next harvest. In the 
parish of Minnigaff, when the Hare was cut, the unmarried 
reapers ran home with all speed, and the one who arrived 
first was the first to be married.^ In Southern Ayrshire the 
last corn cut is also called the Hare, and the mode of cutting 
it seems to be the same as in Galloway ; at least in the neigh- 
bourhood of Kilmarnock the last corn left standing in the 
middle of the field is plaited, and the reapers used to try to 
cut it by throwing their sickles at it. When cut, it was carried 
home and hung up over the door.^ In the Vosges Mountains 
the person who cuts the last handful of hay or wheat is some- 
times said to have caught the Hare ; he is congratulated by 
his comrades and has the honour of carrying the nosegay or 
the small fir-tree decorated with ribbons which marks the con- 
clusion of the harvest. ■* In Germany also one of the names 
for the last sheaf is the Hare.^ Thus in some parts of 
Anhalt, when the corn has been reaped and only a few stalks 
are left standing, they say, " The Hare will soon come," or 
the reapers cry to each other, " Look how the Hare comes 

^ W. Mannhardt, /)/« A'(7r«i/rt'w^«£«, ^ Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889) pp. 

p. I. 47 ^?- 

2 W. Gregor, "Preliminary Report * L. F. ?>3M\e, Folk-lore des Hautes- 

on Folklore in Galloway, Scotland," Vosges (Paris, 1889), p. 191. 

Report of the British Association for ^ W. Mannhardt, Die Korndd^nonen, 

i8g6, p. 623. p. 3. 



28o 



THE CORN-SPIRir AS AN ANIMAL 



jumping out." ^ In East Prussia they say that the Hare sits in 
the last patch of standing corn, and must be chased out by the 
last reaper. The reapers hurry with their work, each being 
anxious not to Have " to chase out the Hare " ; for the man 
who does so, that is, who cuts the last corn, is much laughed 
at.^ At Birk, in Transylvania, when the reapers come to the 
last patch, they cry out, " We have the Hare." ^ At Aurich, 
as we have seen,* an expression for cutting the last corn is 
" to cut off the Hare's tail." " He is killing the Hare " is 
commonly said of the man who cuts the last corn in Ger- 
in the last many, Sweden, Holland, France, and Italy.*^ In Norway 
the man who is thus said to " kill the Hare " must give 
" hare's blood " in the form of brandy, to his fellows to 
drink.^ In Lesbos, when the reapers are at work in two 
neighbouring fields, each party tries to finish first in order 
to drive the Hare into their neighbour's field ; the reapers 
who succeed in doing so believe that next year the crop 
will be better. A small sheaf of corn is made up and kept 
beside the holy picture till next harvest.'^ 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
hare killed 



corn cut. 



,./ 



5. The Corn-spirit as a Cat 



The corn- 
spirit as 
a cat 
sitting in 
the corn. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
cat at reap- 
ing and 

threshing. 



Again, the corn-spirit sometimes takes the form of a cat 
Near Kiel children are warned not to go into the corn-fields 
because " the Cat sits there." In the Eisenach Oberland they 
are told " the Corn-cat will come and fetch you," " the Corn- 
cat goes in the corn." In some parts of Silesia at mowing 
the last corn they say, " The Cat is caught " ; and at threshing, 
the man who gives the last stroke is called the Cat. In 
the neighbourhood of Lyons the last sheaf and the harvest- 
supper are both called the Cat. About Vesoul when they 
cut the last corn they say, " We have the Cat by the tail." 
At Brian^on, in Dauphin^, at the beginning of reaping, a 

^ O. Hartung, " Zur Volkskunde 
aus Anhalt," Zeitschiift des Vereins fiir 
Volkskunde, vii. (1897) p. 154. 

2 C. Lemke, Volksthiimliches in Osi- 
freussen (Mohrungen, 1884-1887), i. 

24; 

■^ G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten 
iind Gebrduch.e tinier den Sachsen Sie- 
benbiirgens ( Hermannstadt, 1 880), p. 2 1 . 



* Above, p. 268. 

6 W. Mannliardt, Mythologische 
Forschtingen, p. 29, 

8 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forscktaigen, pp. 29 sg. ; id., Die 
Kornddmotien, p. 5. 

" Georgeakis et Pineau, Folk-lore dc 
Lesbos (Paris, 1894), p. 310. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A CAT 281 

cat is decked out with ribbons, flowers, and ears of corn. It 
is called the Cat of the ball-skin {le chat de peaic de balle). 
If a reaper is wounded at his work, they make the cat lick 
the wound. At the close of the reaping the cat is again 
decked out with ribbons and ears of corn ; then they dance 
and make merry. When the dance is over the girls solemnly 
strip the cat of its finery. At Griineberg, in Silesia, the 
reaper who cuts the last corn goes by the name of the 
Tom-cat He is enveloped in rye-stalks and green withes, 
and is furnished with a long plaited tail. Sometimes as a 
companion he has a man similarly dressed, who is called the 
(female) Cat. Their duty is to run after people whom they 
see and to beat them with a long stick. Near Amiens the The corn- 
expression for finishing the harvest is, " They are going to carLiHecT 
kill the Cat " ; and when the last corn is cut they kill a cat at reaping 
in the farmyard. At threshing, in some parts of France, a threshing. 
live cat is placed under the last bundle of corn to be 
threshed, and is struck dead with the flails. Then on 
Sunday it is roasted and eaten as a holiday dish.^ In the 
Vosges Mountains the close of haymaking or harvest 
is called " catching the cat," " killing the dog," or more 
rarely " catching the hare." The cat, the dog, or the hare 
is said to be fat or lean according as the crop is good 
or bad. The man who cuts the last handful of hay or of 
wheat is said to catch the cat or the hare or to kill the dog. 
He is congratulated by his comrades and has the honour of 
carrying the nosegay or rather the small fir-tree decked 
with ribbons which marks the end of the haymaking or of 
the harvest.^ In Franche-Comte also the close of harvest is 
called " catching or killing the cat." ^ 



^ 6. The Corn-spirit as a Goat 

Further, the corn-spirit often appears in the form of a 
goat. In some parts of Prussia, when the corn bends before 

1 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald-iind 1906), ii. 64, 65. 
Feldkidte, pp. 172- 1 74; id., Mytho- 2 l_ p. Sauve, Le Folk-lore des 

logische Forschungen, p. 30; P. Hautes- Fosses {Paris, 1889), p. 191. 
Drechsler, SiUe, Branch und Folks- ^ Ch. Beauquier, Les Mois c/i 

glaube 171 Schlesien (Leipsic, 1903- Franch-Comti (Paris, 1900), p. 102. 



282 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as 
a goat 
running 
through 
the corn 
or sitting 
in it. 



The corn- 
goat at 
reaping 
and 

binding 
the corn. 



the wind, they say, " The Goats are chasing each other," 
" the wind is driving the Goats through the corn," " the 
Goats are browsing there," and they expect a very good 
harvest. Again they say, " The Oats-goat is sitting in the 
oats-field," " the Corn-goat is sitting in the rye-field." ^ 
Children are warned not to go into the corn-fields to pluck 
the blue corn-flowers, or amongst the beans to pluck pods, 
because the Rye-goat, the Corn-goat, the Oats-goat, or the 
Bean-goat is sitting or lying there, and will carry them away 
or kill them.^ When a harvester is taken sick or lags 
behind his fellows at their work, they call out, " The Harvest- 
goat has pushed him," "he has been pushed by the Corn- 
goat." ^ In the neighbourhood of Braunsberg (East Prussia) 
at binding the oats every harvester makes haste " lest the 
Corn-goat push him." At Oefoten, in Norway, each reaper 
has his allotted patch to reap. When a reaper in the middle 
has not finished reaping his piece after his neighbours have 
finished theirs, they say of him, " He remains on the island." 
And if the laggard is a man, they imitate the cry with which 
they call a he-goat ; if a woman, the cry with which they 
call a she-goat.* Near Straubing, in Lower Bavaria, it is said 
of the 'man who cuts the last corn that " he has the Corn- 
goat, or the Wheat-goat, or the Oats-goat," according to 
the crop. Moreover, two horns are set up on the last heap 
of corn, and it is called " the horned Goat." At Kreutzburg, 
East Prussia, they call out to the woman who is binding the 
last sheaf, " The Goat is sitting in the sheaf." ^ At Gab- 
lingen, in Swabia, when the last field of oats upon a farm is 
being reaped, the reapers carve a goat out of wood. Ears 
of oats are inserted in its nostrils and mouth, and it is 
adorned with garlands of flowers. It is set up on the field 
and called the Oats-goat. When the reaping approaches an 
end, each reaper hastens to finish his piece first ; he who is 
the last to finish gets the Oats-goat.^ Again, the last sheaf 
is itself called the Goat. Thus, in the valley of the Wiesent, 
Bavaria, the last sheaf bound on the field is called the Goat, 

1 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und ^ Ibid. p. 162. 

Feldkulte, pp. 155 5^. 6 F. Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen 

2 Ibid. pp. 157 sq. Mythologie (Munich, 1848- 1855), ii. 

3 Ibid. p. 159. pp. 232 sq., § 426; W. Mannhardt, 
* Ibid. pp. 161 sq. Antike IVald- tind Feldktilte, p. 162. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A GOAT 283 

and they have a proverb, " The field must bear a goat." ^ At 
Spachbriicken, in Hesse, the last handful of corn which is 
cut is called the Goat, and the man who cuts it is much 
ridiculed.^ At Diirrenbuchig and about Mosbach in Baden the 
last sheaf is also called the Goat.^ Sometimes the last sheaf 
is made up in the form of a goat, and they say, " The Goat 
is sitting in it." * Again, the person who cuts or binds the 
last sheaf is called the Goat. Thus, in parts of Mecklenburg 
they call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, " You 
are the Harvest-goat." Near Uelzen, in Hanover, the harvest 
festival begins with " the bringing of the Harvest-goat " ; 
that is, the woman who bound the last sheaf is wrapt in 
straw, crowned with a harvest-wreath, and brought in a wheel- 
barrow to the village, where a round dance takes place. 
About Luneburg, also, the woman who binds the last corn is 
decked with a crown of corn-ears and is called the Corn- 
goat.^ At Miinzesheim in Baden the reaper who cuts the 
last handful of corn or oats is called the Corn-goat or the 
Oats-goat.^ In the Canton St. Gall, Switzerland, the person 
who cuts the last handful of corn on the field, or drives the 
last harvest-waggon to the barn, is called the Corn-goat or the 
Rye-goat, or simply the Goat' In the Canton Thurgau he 
is called Corn-goat ; like a goat he has a bell hung round his 
neck, is led in triumph, and drenched with liquor. In parts 
of Styria, also, the man who cuts the last corn is called 
Corn-goat, Oats-goat, or the like. As a rule, the man who 
thus gets the name of Corn-goat has to bear it a whole year 
till the next harvest.^ 

According to one view, the corn-spirit, who has been The com- 
caught in the form of a goat or otherwise, lives in the farm- crijipL' ^^^ 
house or barn over winter. Thus, each farm has its own Goat in 
embodiment of the corn-spirit. But, according to another '^®" 
view, the corn-spirit is the genius or deity, not of the corn 

1 F. Panzer, op. cit. ii. pp. 228 sq., * W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald-uiid 

§ 422 ; W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- Feidkulle, p. 164. 
und Feldkulte, p. 163 ; Bavaria, 5 /^/^_ p, 164. 

Landes- und Volkskunde des Konigreichs g £. H. Meyer, Badisches Volksleben 

Bayern, iii. (Munich, 1865) p. 344- (Strasburg, 1900), p. 428. 
Feldkidte, p. 163. ' ^- Mannhardt, ^«/?^,? Wald- und 

3 E. H. Meyer,' Badisches Volksleben Feldkidte, pp. 164 sq. 
(Strasburg, 1900), p. 428. * Ibid. p. 165. 



284 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

of one farm only, but of all the corn. Hence when the corn 
on one farm is all cut, he flees to another where there is still 
corn left standing. This idea is brought out in a harvest- 
custom which was formerly observed in Skye. The farmer 
who first finished reaping sent a man or woman with a 
sheaf to a neighbouring farmer who had not finished ; the 
latter in his turn, when he had finished, sent on the sheaf to 
his neighbour who was still reaping ; and so the sheaf made 
the round of the farms till all the corn was cut. The sheaf 
was called the goabbir bhacagJi, that is, the Cripple Goat,^ 
The custom appears not to be extinct at the present day, 
for it was reported from Skye only a few years ago. We 
are told that when the crofters and small farmers are cutting 
down their corn, each tries his best to finish before his 
neighbour. The first to finish goes to his neighbour's field 
and makes up at one end of it a bundle of sheaves in a 
fanciful shape which goes by the name of the gobhar bhacach 
or Lame Goat. As each man in succession finishes reaping 
his field, he proceeds to set up a lame goat of this sort in 
his neighbour's field where there is still corn standing. No 
one likes to have the Lame Goat put in his field, " not from 
any ill-luck it brings, but because it is humiliating to have it 
standing there visible to all neighbours and passers-by, and 
of course he cannot retaliate." ^ The corn-spirit was prob- 
ably thus represented as lame because he had been crippled 
by the cutting of the corn. We have seen that sometimes 
the old woman who brings home the last sheaf must limp 
on one foot.^ In the Bohmer Wald mountains, between 
Bohemia and Bavaria, when two peasants are driving home 
their corn together, they race against each other to see who 
shall get home first. The village boys mark the loser in the 
race, and at night they come and erect on the roof of his 
house the Oats-goat, which is a colossal figure of a goat made 
of straw.* 

But sometimes the corn-spirit, in the form of a goat, is 

1 J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, lore objects collected in Argj'leshire," 
ii. 24, Bohn's edition, quoting The Folk-lore, vi. (1895) p. 15 1, from in- 
Gentlemati's Magazine for February, formation given by Mrs. C. Nicholson. 
1795. P- 124; W. Mannhardt, op. cit. ^ Above, p. 232. 

p. 165. 4 W. Wz.x\v\\-SixAt, Antike Wald-und 

2 R. C. Maclagan, "Notes on folk- Feldktdte, p. 165. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A GOAT 285 

believed to be slain on the harvest-field by the sickle or The corn- 
scythe. Thus, in the neighbourhood of Bernkastel, on the ^'a'cxoLt^ 
Moselle, the reapers determine by lot the order in which they on the 
shall follow each other. The first is called the fore-reaper, ^gi^ 
the last the tail-bearer. If a reaper overtakes the man in 
front he reaps past him, bending round so as to leave the 
slower reaper in a patch by himself This patch is called 
the Goat ; and the man for whom " the Goat is cut " in this 
way, is laughed and jeered at by his fellows for the rest of 
the day. When the tail-bearer cuts the last ears of corn, it 
is said, " He is cutting the Goat's neck off." ^ In the neigh- 
bourhood of Grenoble, before the end of the reaping, a live 
goat is adorned with flowers and ribbons and allowed to run 
about the field. The reapers chase it and try to catch it. 
When it is caught, the farmer's wife holds it fast while the 
farmer cuts off its head. The goat's flesh serves to furnish 
the harvest-supper. A piece of the flesh is pickled and kept 
till the next harvest, when another goat is killed. Then all 
the harvesters eat of the flesh. On the same day the skin of 
the goat is made into a cloak, which the farmer, who works 
with his men, must always wear at harvest-time if rain or 
bad weather sets in. But if a reaper gets pains in his back, 
the farmer gives him the goat-skin to wear.^ The reason 
for this seems to be that the pains in the back, being inflicted 
by the corn-spirit, can also be healed by it. Similarly, we 
saw that elsewhere, when a reaper is wounded at reaping, a 
cat, as the representative of the corn-spirit, is made to lick 
the wound.^ Esthonian reapers in the island of Mon think 
that the man who cuts the first ears of corn at harvest will 
get pains in his back,'* probably because the corn-spirit is 
believed to resent especially the first wound ; and, in order to 
escape pains in the back, Saxon reapers in Transylvania gird 
their loins with the first handful of ears which they cuL^ 
Here, again, the corn-spirit is applied to for healing or pro- 

1 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 166 ; Gesellschaft zii Dorpat, vii. Heft 2 
id., Alytkologische Forschtmgen,^. i?>^. (Dorpat, 1872), p. 107. 

2 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und ^ G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten 
FeldkiiUe, p. 166. undGebrdtuheunterdeiiSachsenSieben- 

3 Above, p. 281. biirgens (Hermannstadt, 1880), p. 19. 
* J. B. Holzmayer, "Osiliana," Ver- Compare W. Mannhardt, Baumkidtus, 

handhiiigen der gelehrten Estnischen pp. 482 sqq. 



286 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

tection, but in his original vegetable form, not in the form of 
a goat or a cat. 
The corn- Further, the corn-spirit under the form of a goat is some- 

formo"a^'^ times conceivcd as lurking among the cut corn in the barn, 
goat sup- till he is driven from it by the threshing-flail. Thus in 
fu°rkfmon<T Baden the last sheaf to be threshed is called the Corn-goat, 
the corn in the Spelt-goat, or the Oats-goat according to the kind of 
tin he is' grain.^ Again, near Marktl, in Upper Bavaria, the sheaves 
expelled by j^j-g called Straw-goats or simply Goats. They are laid in 
threshing, a great heap on the open field and threshed by two rows 
of men standing opposite each other, who, as they ply 
their flails, sing a song in which they say that they see the 
Straw-goat amongst the corn-stalks. The last Goat, that is, 
the last sheaf, is adorned with a wreath of violets and other 
flowers and with cakes strung together. It is placed right 
in the middle of the heap. Some of the threshers rush at 
it and tear the best of it out ; others lay on with their flails 
so recklessly that heads are sometimes broken. In thresh- 
ing this last sheaf, each man casts up to the man opposite 
him the misdeeds of which he has been guilty throughout 
the year.^ At Oberinntal, in the Tyrol, the last thresher is 
called Goat.^ So at Haselberg, in West Bohemia, the man 
who gives the last stroke at threshing oats is called the Oats- 
goat* At Tettnang, in Wurtemburg, the thresher who 
gives the last stroke to the last bundle of corn before it is 
turned goes by the name of the He-goat, and it is said, " He 
has driven the He-goat away." The person who, after the 
bundle has been turned, gives the last stroke of all, is called 
the She-goat.^ In this custom it is implied that the corn is 
inhabited by a pair of corn-spirits, male and female. 
The corn- Further, the corn-spirit, captured in the form of a goat at 

formo^a^ threshing, is passed on to a neighbour whose threshing is not 
goat passed yet finished. In Franche Comte, as soon as the threshing is 
ghbour over, the young people set up a straw figure of a goat on the 

^ E. L. Meyer, Badisches Volksleben * A. John, Sitte, Branch und 

(Strasburg, 1900), p. 436. Volksglanbe im deiitschen Westbohmen 

2 F. Panzer, Beitrag ziir dejitscheti (Prague, 1905), p. 194. 
Mythologie, ii. pp. 225 sqq., § 421 ; 

W. Mannhnrdt, AniikeJVa/d- itnd Fe/d- ^ E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitien 

kulte, pp. 167 sq. mid Gebfcittche ausSchwaben {Stuitgart, 

2 W. Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und 1852), p. 445, § 162 ; W. Mannhardt, 

Feldkulte, p. 168. Antike IVa/d- und Feldkulte, p. 168. 



on to a 
nei 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A GOAT 287 

farmyard of a neighbour who is still threshing. He must who has 
give them wine or money in return. At Ellwangen, in 1^°' "'^ ^ 
VViirtemburg, the effigy of a goat is made out of the last threshing. 
bundle of corn at threshing ; four sticks form its legs, and 
two its horns. The man who gives the last stroke with 
the flail must carry the Goat to the barn of a neighbour 
who is still threshing and throw it down on the floor ; if he 
is caught in the act, they tie the goat on his back.^ A 
similar custom is observed at Indersdorf, in Upper Bavaria ; 
the man who throws the straw Goat into the neighbour's 
barn imitates the bleating of a goat ; if they catch him, they 
blacken his face and tie the Goat on his back.^ At Zabern, 
in Elsace, when a farmer is a week or more behind his neigh- 
bours with his threshing, they set a real stuffed goat or fox 
before his door.^ 

Sometimes the spirit of the corn in goat form is believed The corn- 
to be killed at threshing. In the district of Traunstein, toat form 
Upper Bavaria, they think that the Oats-goat is in the last '^''led at 

TT • 11 111 threshing. 

sheaf of oats. He is represented by an old rake set up on 
end, with an old pot for a head. The children are then told 
to kill the Oats-goat."* Elsewhere, however, the corn-spirit 
in the form of a goat is apparently thought to live in the 
field throughout the winter. Hence at Wannefeld near 
Gardelegen, and also between Calbe and Salzwedel, in the 
Altmark, the last stalks used to be left uncut on the harvest- 
field with the words, " That shall the He- goat keep ! " 
Evidently the last corn was here left as a provision for the 
corn-spirit, lest, robbed of all his substance, he should die of 
hunger. A stranger passing a harvest -field is sometimes 
taken for the Corn-goat escaping in human shape from the 
cut or threshed grain. Thus, when a stranger passes a 
harvest-field, all the labourers stop and shout as with one 
voice, " He-goat ! He-goat ! " At rape-seed threshing in 
Schleswig, which is generally done on the field, the same 
cry is raised if the stranger does not take off his hat.^ 

1 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 169. * Ibid. p. 170. 

2 F. Panzer, Beilrag zur deutscheii 

Mythologie, ii. pp. 224 sq., § 420 ; ^ Ibid. p. 170. As to the custom 

W. Mannhardt, AntikeWald- mid Feld- of leaving a little corn on the field for 

kiilte, p. 169. the subsistence of the corn-spirit, see 

^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 169. above, pp. 231 sqq. 



288 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



Old 

Prussian 
custom of 
killing a 
goat at 
sowing. 



At sowing their winter corn the old Prussians used to 
kill a goat, consume its flesh with many superstitious cere- 
monies, and hang the skin on a high pole near an oak and 
a large stone. There it remained till harvest, when a great 
bunch of corn and herbs was fastened to the pole above the 
goat-skin. Then, after a prayer had been offered by a peasant 
who acted as priest ( Weidiilui), the young folks joined hands 
and danced round the oak and the pole. Afterwards they 
scrambled for the bunch of corn, and the priest distributed 
the herbs with a sparing hand. Then he placed the goat- 
skin on the large stone, sat down on it, and preached to the 
people about the history of their forefathers and their old 
heathen customs and beliefs.^ The goat-skin thus suspended 
on the field from sowing time to harvest perhaps represents 
the corn-spirit superintending the grov/th of the corn. The 
Tomori of Central Celebes imagine that the spirits which 
cause rice to grow have the form of great goats with long 
hair and long lips.^ 



The corn- 
spirit in the 
form of a 
bull 

running 
through 
the corn or 
lying in it. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
bull, ox, or 
cow at 
harvest. 



§ 7. The Corn- spirit as a Bull, Cow, or Ox 

Another form which the corn-spirit often assumes is that 
of a bull, cow, or ox. When the wind sweeps over the corn 
they say at Conitz, in West Prussia, " The Steer is running 
in the corn " ; ^ when the corn is thick and strong in one 
spot, they say in some parts of East Prussia, " The Bull is 
lying in the corn." When a harvester has overstrained and 
lamed himself, they say in the Graudenz district of West 
Prussia, " The Bull pushed him " ; in Lothringen they say, 
" He has the Bull." The meaning of both expressions is 
that he has unwittingly lighted upon the divine corn-spirit, 
who has punished the profane intruder with lameness.* So 
near Chambdry when a reaper wounds himself with his 
sickle, it is said that he has " the wound of the Ox." ^ In 



' M. Praetorius, Deliciae Prussicae 
(Berlin, 187 1), pp. 23 sq. ; W. Mann- 
hardt, Baumkultus, pp. 394 sq. 

^ A. C. Kruijt, " Eenige ethno- 
grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de 
Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mede- 
deelingen van ivege het Nederlandsche 



Zendelinggenootschap, xliv. (1900) p. 
241. 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungen, p. 58. 

4 Ibid 

5 Ibid. p. 62. 



viii THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A BULL, COW, OR OX 2S9 

the district of Bunzlau (Silesia) the last sheaf is sometimes 
made into the shape of a horned ox, stuffed with tow and 
wrapt in corn -ears. This figure is called the Old Man. 
In some parts of Bohemia the last sheaf is made up in 
human form and called the Buffalo-bull.^ These cases shew 
a confusion of the human with the animal shape of the corn- 
spirit. The confusion is like that of killing a wether under 
the name of a wolf.^ In the Canton of Thurgau, Switzer- 
land, the last sheaf, if it is a large one, is called the Cow.^ 
All over Swabia the last bundle of corn on the field is called 
the Cow ; the man who cuts the last ears " has the Cow," 
and is himself called Cow or Barley-cow or Oats-cow, accord- 
ing to the crop ; at the harvest-supper he gets a nosegay of 
flowers and corn-ears and a more liberal allowance of drink 
than the rest. But he is teased and laughed at ; so no one 
likes to be the Cow."* The Cow was sometimes represented 
by the figure of a woman made out of ears of corn and corn- 
flowers. It was carried to the farmhouse by the man who 
had cut the last handful of corn. The children ran after 
him and the neighbours turned out to laugh at him, till the 
farmer took the Cow from him.^ Here again the confusion 
between the human and the animal form of the corn-spirit is 
apparent. In various parts of Switzerland the reaper who 
cuts the last ears of corn is called Wheat-cow, Corn-cow, 
Oats-cow, or Corn-steer, and is the butt of many a joke.^ 
In some parts of East Prussia, when a few ears of corn have 
been left standing by inadvertence on the last swath, the 
foremost reaper seizes them and cries, " Bull ! Bull ! " ^ On 
the other hand, in the district of Rosenheim, Upper Bavaria, 
when a farmer is later of getting in his harvest than his 
neighbours, they set up on his land a Straw-bull, as it is 
called. This is a gigantic figure of a bull made of stubble 
on a framework of wood and adorned with flowers and 
leaves. Attached to it is a label on which are scrawled 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Mythologie, ii. p. 234, § 428 ; W. 
Forschungen, p. 59. Mannhardt, A/j't/io/ogisc/ieForsc/i/t/igeu, 

2 Above, p. 275. p. 59. 

3 W. Mannhardt, o/>. cit. p. 59. ^ F. Panzer, op. cit. ii. p. 233, § 
-• E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten 427 ; W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 

iind Gebrduche aus Schzvaben (Stutt- Forschungen, p. 59. 

j^art, 1852), pp. 440 sq., §§ 151, 152, ^ W. Mannhardt, op. r//. pp. 59 sq. 

153; F. Y?mze.x, Beitragzur deutschen ^ Ibid. p. 58. 

PT. V. VOL. I U 



290 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit in the 
form of a 
bull or ox 
killed at 
the close 
of the 
reaping. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
bull or 
cow at 
threshing. 



doggerel verses in ridicule of the man on whose land the 
Straw-bull is set up.-^ 

Again, the corn-spirit in the form of a bull or ox is 
killed on the harvest-field at the close of the reaping. At 
Pouilly, near Dijon, when the last ears of corn are about to 
be cut, an ox adorned with ribbons, flowers, and ears of corn 
is led all round the field, followed by the whole troop of 
reapers dancing. Then a man disguised as the Devil cuts 
the last ears of corn and immediately slaughters the ox. 
Part of the flesh of the animal is eaten at the harvest- 
supper ; part is pickled and kept till the first day of sowing 
in spring. At Pont a Mousson and elsewhere on the evening 
of the last day of reaping, a calf adorned with flowers and 
ears of corn is led thrice round the farmyard, being allured 
by a bait or driven by men with sticks, or conducted by the 
farmer's wife with a rope. The calf chosen for this ceremony 
is the calf which was born first on the farm in the spring of 
the year. It is followed by all the reapers with their tools. 
Then it is allowed to run free ; the reapers chase it, and 
whoever catches it is called King of the Calf. Lastly, it is 
solemnly killed ; at Luneville the man who acts as butcher 
is the Jewish merchant of the village.^ 

Sometimes again the corn-spirit hides himself amongst 
the cut corn in the barn to reappear in bull or cow form at 
threshing. Thus at Wurmlingen, in Thiiringen, the man who 
gives the last stroke at threshing is called the Cow, or rather 
the Barley-cow, Oats-cow, Peas-cow, or the like, according 
to the crop. He is entirely enveloped in straw ; his head 
is surmounted by sticks in imitation of horns, and two lads 
lead him by ropes to the well to drink. On the way thither 
he must low like a cow, and for a long time afterwards he 
goes by the name of the Cow.^ At Obermedlingen, in 
Swabia, when the threshing draws near an end, each man 
is careful to avoid giving the last stroke. He who does give 
it " gets the Cow," which is a straw figure dressed in an old 
ragged petticoat, hood, and stockings. It is tied on his back 



* W. Mannhardt, Mythologlsche 
Forschungen, pp. 58 sq. 

2 Ibid. p. 60. 



3 E. Meier, Deutsche Sage ft, Siiten 
tind Gebrduche aus Sckwahen, pp. 444 
sq., § 162; W. Mannhardt, Mytho- 
loglsche Forschungen, p. 61. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A BULL, COW, OR OX 291 

with a straw-rope ; his face is blackened, and being bound 
with straw-ropes to a wheelbarrow he is wheeled round 
the village.^ Here, again, we meet with that confusion 
between the human and animal shape of the corn-spirit 
which we have noted in other customs. In Canton Schaff- 
hausen the man who threshes the last corn is called the 
Cow ; in Canton Thurgau, the Corn-bull ; in Canton Zurich, 
the Thresher-cow. In the last-mentioned district he is 
wrapt in straw and bound to one of the trees in the orchard.^ 
At Arad, in Hungary, the man who gives the last stroke at 
threshing is enveloped in straw and a cow's hide with the 
horns attached to it.^ At Pessnitz, in the district of Dresden, 
the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is called 
Bull. He must make a straw-man and set it up before a 
neighbour's window.* Here, apparently, as in so many 
cases, the corn-spirit is passed on to a neighbour who has 
not finished threshing. So at Herbrechtingen, in Thiiringen, 
the effigy of a ragged old woman is flung into the barn of 
the farmer who is last with his threshing. The man who 
throws it in cries, " There is the Cow for you." If the 
threshers catch him they detain him over night and punish 
him by keeping him from the harvest-supper.""* In these 
latter customs the confusion between the human and the 
animal shape of the corn-spirit meets us again. 

Further, the corn-spirit in bull form is sometimes believed The corn- 
to be killed at threshing. At Auxerre, in threshing the last fj^m jffjj"^ 
bundle of corn, they call out twelve times, " We are killing buu sup- 
the Bull." In the neighbourhood of Bordeaux, where a ^°ifg^ ^j 
butcher kills an ox on the field immediately after the close threshing. 
of the reaping, it is said of the man who gives the last 
stroke at threshing that "he has killed the Bull."*' At 
Chambery the last sheaf is called the sheaf of the Young 
Ox, and a race takes place to it in which all the reapers 
join. When the last stroke is given at threshing they 
say that " the Ox is killed " ; and immediately thereupon 

1 F. Panzer, Beitrag zttr detitschen ^ E. Meier, Deutsche Sageti, Sitten 
Mythologie, ii. p. 233, § 427. itnd Gebrduche aus Sckwabeii, pp. 445 

2 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische sq., § 163. 
Forschunge7i, pp. 61 sq. 

•^ Ibid. p. 62. * W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 

* Ibid. p. 62. Forschungen, p. 60. 



292 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



calf at 
harvest or 
in spring. 



a real ox is slaughtered by the reaper who cut the last 
corn. The flesh of the ox is eaten by the threshers at 
supper.^ 
The corn- We have seen that sometimes the young corn-spirit, 

Sf'lr ^ whose task it is to quicken the corn of the coming year, is 
believed to be born as a Corn-baby on the harvest-field.^ 
Similarly in Berry the young corn -spirit is sometimes 
supposed to be born on the field in calf form ; for when a 
binder has not rope enough to bind all the corn in sheaves, 
he puts aside the wheat that remains over and imitates the 
lowing of a cow. The meaning is that " the sheaf has given 
birth to a calf." ^ In Puy-de-D6me when a binder cannot 
keep up with the reaper whom he or she follows, they say 
" He (or she) is giving birth to the Calf." * In some parts of 
Prussia, in similar circumstances, they call out to the woman, 
" The Bull is coming," and imitate the bellowing of a bull.^ 
In these cases the woman is conceived as the Corn-cow or 
old corn-spirit, while the supposed calf is the Corn-calf or 
young corn-spirit. In some parts of Austria a mythical calf 
{Muhkdlbchen) is believed to be seen amongst the sprouting 
corn in spring and to push the children ; when the corn waves 
in the wind they say, " The Calf is going about." Clearly, as 
Mannhardt observes, this calf of the spring-time is the same 
animal which is afterwards believed to be killed at reaping.^ 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
horse or 
mare 
running 
through 
the corn. 

"Crying 
the Mare ' ' 
in Hert- 
fordshire 
and Shrop- 
shire. 



S 8. The Corn-Spirit as a Horse or Mare 

Sometimes the corn-spirit appears in the shape of a 
horse or mare. Between Kalw and Stuttgart, when the corn 
bends before the wind, they say, " There runs the Horse." ^ 
At Bohlingen, near Radolfzell in Baden, the last sheaf of 
oats is called the Oats-stallion.^ In Hertfordshire, at the 
end of the reaping, there is or used to be observed a ceremony 
called " crying the Mare." The last blades of corn left 
standine: on the field are tied together and called the Mare. 



1 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 62. 

2 Above, pp. 150 sq. 

3 Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances et 
L^gendes du Centre de la France (Paris, 
1875), ii. 135. 

^ W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 



Forschungen, p. 62: '^ II fait ieveatt." 
6 Ibid. 

6 Ibid. p. 63. 

7 Ibid. p. 167. 

^ E. H. Meyer, Badisches Volkslebcii 
(Strasburg, 1900), p. 42S. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A HORSE OR MARE 293 

The reapers stand at a distance and throw their sickles at 
it ; he who cuts it through " has the prize, with acclamations 
and good cheer." After it is cut the reapers cry thrice with 
a loud voice, " I have her ! " Others answer thrice, " What 
have you ? " — " A Mare ! a Mare ! a Mare ! " — " Whose is 
she ? " is next asked thrice. " A. B.'s," naming the owner 
thrice. " Whither will you send her ? " — " Tc C. D.," naming 
some neighbour who has not reaped all his corn.^ In this 
custom the corn-spirit in the form of a mare is passed on 
from a farm where the corn is all cut to another farm where 
it is still standing, and where therefore the corn-spirit may 
be supposed naturally to take refuge. In Shropshire the 
custom is similar. " Crying, calling, or shouting the mare is 
a ceremony performed by the men of that farm which is the 
first in any parish or district to finish the harvest. The 
object of it is to make known their own prowess, and to 
taunt the laggards by a pretended offer of the ' owd mar' ' 
[old mare] to help out their ' chem ' [team]. All the men 
assemble (the wooden harvest-bottle being of course one of 
the company) in the stackyard, or, better, on the highest 
ground on the farm, and there shout the following dialogue, 
preceding it by a grand ' Hip, hip, hip, hurrah ! ' 
" ' I 'ave 'er, I 'ave 'er, I 'ave 'er ! ' 
" ' Whad 'ast thee, whad 'ast thee, whad 'ast thee ? ' 
" ' A mar' ! a mar' ! a mar' ! ' 
" ' Whose is 'er, whose is 'er, whose is 'er ? ' 
" ' Maister A.'s, Maister A.'s, Maister A.'s ! ' (naming the 
farmer whose harvest is finished). 

" * W'eer sha't the' send 'er ? w'eer sha't the' send 'er ? 
w'eer sha't the' send 'er ? ' 

"'To Maister B.'s, to Maister B.'s, to Maister B.'s' 
(naming one whose harvest is not finished). 

" ' 'Uth a hip, hip, hip, hurrah ! ' (in chorus)." 
The farmer who finishes his harvest last, and who 
therefore cannot send the Mare to any one else, is said 
" to keep her all winter." The mocking offer of the Mare 
was sometimes responded to by a mocking acceptance of 
her help. Thus an old man told an enquirer, " While we 
wun at supper, a mon cumm'd wi' a autar [halter] to fatch 

1 J. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 24, Bohn's edition. 



294 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
horse in 
France. 



her away." But at one place (Longnor, near Leebotwood), 
down to about 1850, the Mare used really to be sent. 
" The head man of the farmer who had finished harvest 
first was mounted on the best horse of the team — the 
leader — both horse and man being adorned with ribbons, 
streamers, etc. Thus arrayed, a boy on foot led the pair in 
triumph to the neighbouring farmhouses. Sometimes the 
man who took the ' mare ' received, as well as plenty of 
harvest-ale, some rather rough, though good-humoured, treat- 
ment, coming back minus his decorations, and so on." ^ 

In the neighbourhood of Lille the idea of the corn-spirit 
in horse form is clearly preserved. When a harvester grows 
weary at his work, it is said, " He has the fatigue of the 
Horse." The first sheaf, called the " Cross of the Horse," is 
placed on a cross of boxwood in the barn, and the youngest 
horse on the farm must tread on it. The reapers dance 
round the last blades of corn, crying, " See the remains of the 
Horse." The sheaf made out of these last blades is given 
to the youngest horse of the parish {coinmune) to eat. This 
youngest horse of the parish clearly represents, as Mannhardt 
says, the corn -spirit of the following year, the Corn-foal, 
which absorbs the spirit of the old Corn-horse by eating the 
last corn cut ; for, as usual, the old corn-spirit takes his 
final refuge in the last sheaf The thresher of the last 
sheaf is said to " beat the Horse." ^ Again, a trace of the 
horse - shaped corn - spirit is reported from Berry. The 
harvesters there are accustomed to take a noonday nap 
in the field. This is called " seeing the Horse." The leader 
or " King " of the harvesters gives the signal for going to 
sleep. If he delays giving the signal, one of the harvesters 
will begin to neigh like a horse, the rest imitate him, and 
then they all go " to see the Horse." ^ 



^ C. F. Burne and G. F. Jackson, 
Shropshire Folk-lore (London, 1883), 
PP; 373 sq- 

^ W. Mannhardt, MythoJogische 
Forschungen, p. 167. We may com- 
pare the Scotch custom of giving the 
last sheaf to a horse or mare to eat. 
See above, pp. 141, 156, 158, \6o sq., 
162 

^ Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances et 



L^gcndes du Centre de la France (Paris, 
1875), ii. 133 ; W. Mannhardt, 
Mythologische Forschungen, pp. 167 sq. 
We have seen (above, p. 267) that in 
South Pembrokeshire the man who cut 
the " Neck " used to he " shod," that 
is, to have the soles of his feet severely 
beaten with sods. Perhaps he was 
thus treated as representing the corn- 
spirit in the form of a horse. 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A BIRD 295 



^ 9. The Corn-spirit as a Bird 

Sometimes the corn-spirit assumes the form of a bird. The com- 
Thus among the Saxons of the Bistritz district in Transyl- ^P""'^^'^^ 

>=> ^ -^ a quail. 

vania there is a saying that the quail is sitting in the last 
standing stalks on the harvest-field, and all the reapers rush 
at these stalks in order, as they say, to catch the quail.^ 
Exactly the same expression is used by reapers in Austrian 
Silesia when they are about to cut the last standing corn, 
whatever the kind of grain may be.^ In the Bocage of 
Normandy, when the reapers have come to the last ears of 
the last rig, they surround them for the purpose of catching 
the quail, which is supposed to have taken refuge there. They 
run about the corn crying, " Mind the Quail ! " and make 
believe to grab at the bird amid shouts and laughter.^ 
Connected with this identification of the corn-spirit with a 
quail is probably the belief that the cry of the bird in spring 
is prophetic of the price of corn in the autumn ; in Germany 
they say that corn will sell at as many gulden a bushel as 
the quail uttered its cry over the fields in spring. Similar 
prognostications are drawn from the note of the bird in 
central and western France, in Switzerland and in Tuscany.* • 
Perhaps one reason for identifying the quail with the corn- 
spirit is that the bird lays its eggs on the ground, without 
making much of a nest.^ Similarly the Toradjas of Central The rice- 
Celebes think that the soul of the rice is embodied in a X^bird 
pretty little blue bird which builds its nest in the rice-field 
at the time when the rice is beginning to germinate, and 
which disappears again after the harvest. Thus both the 
place and the time of the appearance of the bird suggest to 
the natives the notion that the blue bird is the rice incarnate. 
And like the note of the quail in Europe the note of this 

1 G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten * A. Wuttke, Der deutsche Volks 
tiiid Gebrdttche unter den Sachsen aberglaube"^ (Berlin, 1869), p. 189, 
Siebenburgens (Hermannstadt, 1880), §277; Chr. Schneller, Mdrchen tind 
p. 21. Sagen aus IVahchtirol (Innsbruck, 

2 A. Peter, Volksthumliches aus 1867), p. 238; Rev. Ch. Swainson, 
Osterreichisch - Schlesien (Troppau, The Folk Lore and Proinncial Names of 
1865-1867), ii. 268. British Birds (London, 1886), p. 173. 

3 T- Lecoeur, Esquisses du Bocage ^ Alfred Newton, Dictionary of 
Norma7id (Conde-sur-Noireau, 1883- Birds, New Edition (London, 1893- 
1S87), ii. 240. 1896), p. 755. 



ig6 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The rice- 
spirit as 
a quail. 



little bird in Celebes is believed to prognosticate the state 
of the harvest, foretelling whether the rice will be abundant 
or scarce. Nobody may drive the bird away ; to do so 
would not merely injure the rice, it would hurt the eyes of 
the sacrilegious person and might even strike him blind. 
In Minahassa, a district in the north of Celebes, a similar 
though less definite belief attaches to a sort of small quail 
which loves to haunt the rice-fields before the rice is reaped ; 
and when the Galelareeze of Halmahera hear a certain kind 
of bird, which they call toge, croaking among the rice in ear, 
they say that the bird is putting the grain into the rice, so 
they will not kill it.^ 



The corn- 
spirit as 
a fox 
running 
through 
the corn or 
sitting in it. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
fox at 
reaping 
the last 



^ 10. TJie Corn-Spirit as a Fox 

Another animal whose shape the corn-spirit is sometimes 
thought to assume is the fox. The conception is recorded 
at various places in Germany and France. Thus at Nord- 
lingen in Bavaria, when the corn waves to and fro in the 
wind, they say, " The fox goes through the corn," and at 
Usingen in Nassau they say, " The foxes are marching 
through the corn." At Ravensberg, in Westphalia, and at 
Steinau, in Kurhessen, children are warned against straying 
in the corn, " because the Fox is there." At Campe, near 
Stade, when they are about to cut the last corn, they call 
out to the reaper, " The Fox is sitting there, hold him fast ! " 
In the Department of the Moselle they say, " Watch 
whether the Fox comes out." In Bourbonnais the ex- 
pression is, ' You will catch the Fox." When a reaper 
wounds himself or is sick at reaping, they say in the Lower 
Loire that " He has the Fox." In Cote-d'or they say, " He 
has killed the Fox." At Louhans, in Saone-et-Loire, when 
the reapers are cutting the last corn they leave a handful 
standing and throw their sickles at it. He who hits it is 
called the Fox, and two girls deck his bonnet with flowers. 



1 A. C. Kruijt, " Eenige ethno- 
grafische aanteekeningen omtrent de 
Toboengkoe en de Tomori," Mede- 
deelirigen vati wege het Ncderlandsche 
Zendelinggenootschap, xliv. (1900) pp. 
228, 229 ; id., " De rijstmoeder in den 



Indischen Archipel," Verslageii en 
Mededeelingeii van der koninklijke 
Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afdeel- 
ing Letterkunde, Vierde Reeks, v., 
part 3 (Amsterdam, 1903), pp. 374 
sq. 



viii THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A FOX 297 

In the evening there is a dance, at which the Fox dances 
with all the girls. The supper which follows is also called 
the Fox ; they say, " VVe have eaten the Fox," meaning that 
they have partaken of the harvest-supper. In the Canton 
of Zurich the last sheaf is called the Fox. At Bourgogne, 
in Ain, they cry out, " The Fox is sitting in the last sheaf," 
and having made the figure of an animal out of white cloth 
and some ears of the last corn, they dub it the Fox and 
throw it into the house of a neighbour who has not yet got 
in all his harvest.^ In Poitou, when the corn is being 
reaped in a district, all the reapers strive to finish as quickly 
as possible in order that they may send " the Fox " to the 
fields of a farmer who has not yet garnered his sheaves. 
The man who cuts the last handful of standing corn is said 
to "have the Fox." This last handful is carried to the 
farmer's house and occupies a place on the table during the 
harvest-supper ; and the custom is to drench it with water. 
After that it is set up on the chimney-piece and remains 
there the whole year.^ At threshing, also, in Saone-et- The corn- 
Loire, the last sheaf is called the Fox; in Lot they say, fo"'at^^^ 
" We are going to beat the Fox " ; and at Zabern in Alsace threshing. 
they set a stuffed fox before the door of the threshing-floor 
of a neighbour who has not finished his threshing.^ With 
this conception of the fox as an embodiment of the corn- 
spirit may possibly be connected an old custom, observed in 
Holstein and Westphalia, of carrying a dead or living fox 
from house to house in spring ; the intention of the custom 
was perhaps to diffuse the refreshing and invigorating 
influence of the reawakened spirit of vegetation.* In Japan The 
the rice-god Inari is represented as an elderly man with a Ji^P^n^sc 

° ^ ■' ^ rice-god 

long beard riding on a white fox, and the fox is always associated 
associated with this deity. In front of his shrines may ^'^'^ '^^'^ 
usually be seen a pair of foxes carved in wood or stone.^ 

1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologisclie Alythologische Forschungcii,^.\iono\.e. 
Forschuiigen, p. 109 note ^. ^ Lafcadio Hearn, Glimpses of Uii- 

2 L. Pineau, Folk-lore dii Poitou familiar Japan (London, 1894), ii. 
(Paris, 1892), pp. 500 sq. 312 sqq. ; W. G. Aston, Shinto 

3 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische (London, 1905), pf. 162 sq. At the 
Forsclumgen, pp. 109 sq., note ^. festival of the Roman corn -goddess 

* J. F. L. Woeste, VblksUberliefer- Ceres, celebrated on the nineteenth of 
tingen in der Grafschaft Mark (Iser- April, foxes were allowed to run about 
lohn, 1848), p. 27; W. Mannhardt, with burning torches tied to their tails, 



298 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as 
a boar 
rushing 
through 
the corn. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
boar or 
sow at 
reaping. 



The corn- 
spirit as a 
sow at 
threshing. 



^11. The Corn -Spirit as a Pig {Boar or Sow) 

The last animal embodiment of the corn-spirit which we 
shall notice is the pig (boar or sow). In Thliringen, when 
the wind sets the young corn in motion, they sometimes say, 
" The Boar is rushing through the corn." ^ Amongst the 
Esthonians of the island of Oesel the last sheaf is called the 
Rye-boar, and the man who gets it is saluted with a cry of 
"You have the Rye-boar on your back!" In reply he 
strikes up a song, in which he prays for plenty.^ At 
Kohlerwinkel, near Augsburg, at the close of the harvest, 
the last bunch of standing corn is cut down, stalk by stalk, 
by all the reapers in turn. He who cuts the last stalk " gets 
the Sow," and is laughed at.^ In other Swabian villages 
also the man who cuts the last corn " has the Sow," or " has 
the Rye-sow." * In the Traunstein district, Upper Bavaria, 
the man who cuts the last handful of rye or wheat " has 
the Sow," and is called Sow-driver.^ At Bohlingen, near 
Radolfzell in Baden, the last sheaf is called the Rye-sow or 
the Wheat-sow, according to the crop ; and at Rohrenbach 
in Baden the person who brings the last armful for the last 
sheaf is called the Corn-sow or the Oats-sow. And in the 
south-east of Baden the thresher who gives the last stroke at 
threshing, or is the last to hang up his flail on the wall, is 
called the Sow or the Rye-sow.^ At Friedingen, in Swabia, 
the thresher who gives the last stroke is called Sow — 
Barley-sow, Corn-sow, or the like, according to the crop. 

and the custom was explained as a 
punishment inflicted on foxes because 
a fox had once in this way burned 
down the crops (Ovid, Fasti, iv. 
679 sqq.). Samson is said to have 
burned the crops of the Philistines in 
a similar fashion (Judges xv. 4 sq.). 
Whether the custom and the tradition 
are connected with the idea of the fox 
as an embodiment of the corn-spirit is 
doubtful. Compare W. Mannhardt, 
Mythologische Forschungen,^-^. 10% sq. ; 
W. Warde Fowler, Ronian Festivals 
of the Period of the Repiblic (London, 
1899), pp. 77-79- 

^ A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten und 
Gebrduche aus Thiiriiigen (Vienna, 



1878), p. 213, § 4. So at Klepzig, in 
Anhalt {Zeitschrifc des Vereins fiir 
Volkskunde, vii. (1897) p. 150). 

2 J. B. Holzmayer, "Osiliana," Ver- 
handhtngoi der geleh?-ten Estnischen 
Gesellschaft zn Dorpat,\\\. Heft 2 (Dor- 
pat, 1872), p. 107 ; W. Mannhardt, 
Mythologische Forschwigen, p. 187. 

^ A. Birlinger, Aus Sckwaben{y^i&s- 
baden, 1874), ii. 328. 

* V. Panzer, Beitrag ziir deutschen 
Mythologie (Munich, 1848- 1855), ii. 
pp. 223, 224, §§ 417, 419. 

» W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschuugen, p. 112. 

^ E. L. Meyer, Badisches Volksleben 
(Strasburg, 1900), pp. 428, 436. 



vin THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A PIG 299 

At Onstmettingen the man who gives the last stroke at 
threshing " has the Sow " ; he is often bound up in a sheaf 
and dragged by a rope along the ground/ And, generally, 
in Swabia the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is 
called Sow. He may, however, rid himself of this invidious 
distinction by passing on to a neighbour the straw-rope, 
which is the badge of his position as Sow. So he goes to a 
house and throws the straw-rope into it, crying, " There, I 
bring you the Sow." All the inmates give chase ; and if 
they catch him they beat him, shut him up for several hours 
in the pig-sty, and oblige him to take the " Sow " away 
again.^ In various parts of Upper Bavaria the man who 
gives the last stroke at threshing must " carry the Pig " — that 
is, either a straw effigy of a pig or merely a bundle of straw- 
ropes. This he carries to a neighbouring farm where the 
threshing is not finished, and throws it into the barn. If the 
threshers catch him they handle him roughly, beating him, 
blackening or dirtying his face, throwing him into filth, 
binding the Sow on his back, and so on ; if the bearer of 
the Sow is a woman they cut off her hair. At the harvest 
supper or dinner the man who " carried the Pig " gets one 
or more dumplings made in the form of pigs ; sometimes he 
gets a large dumpling and a number of small ones, all in 
pig form, the large one being called the sow and the small 
ones the sucking-pigs. Sometimes he has the right to be 
the first to put his hand into the dish and take out as many 
small dumplings (" sucking-pigs ") as he can, while the other 
threshers strike at his hand with spoons or sticks. When 
the dumplings are served up by the maid-servant, all the 
people at table cry " Siiz, siiz, siiz ! " that being the cry used 
in calling pigs. Sometimes after dinner the man who " carried 
the Pig " has his face blackened, and is set on a cart and 
drawn round the village by his fellows, followed by a crowd 
crying " Siiz, siiz, siiz ! " as if they were calling swine. 
Sometimes, after being wheeled round the village, he is flung 
on the dunghill.^ 

1 E. Meier, Deutsche Sageit, Sitten ^C/^wai^^w ( Freiburg im Breisgau, 1S61- 
U7id Gebrdtiche aus Schwaben (^VoM^zxt, 1S62), ii. p. 425, § 379- 

1852), p. 445, § 162. ^ F. Panzer, Beitrag ziir detdschen 

Mythologie, ii. pp. 221-224, §§ 409> 

2 A. Birlinger, Volksthiimliches aiis 410, 41 1, 412, 413, 414, 415, 418. 



300 



THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL 



The corn- 
spirit as 
a pig at 
sowing. 



The corn- 
spirit em- 
bodied in 
the Yule 
Boar of 
Scandi- 
navia. 



Again, the corn-spirit in the form of a pig plays his part 
at sowing-time as well as at harvest. At Neuautz, in Cour- 
land, when barley is sown for the first time in the year, the 
farmer's wife boils the chine of a pig along with the tail, 
and brings it to the sower on the field. He eats of it, but 
cuts off the tail and sticks it in the field ; it is believed that 
the ears of corn will then grow as long as the tail.^ Here 
the pig is the corn-spirit, whose fertilising power is some- 
times supposed to lie especially in his tail.^ As a pig he is 
put in the ground at sowing-time, and as a pig he reappears 
amongst the ripe corn at harvest. For amongst the neigh- 
bouring Esthonians, as we have seen,^ the last sheaf is called 
the Rye-boar. Somewhat similar customs are observed in 
Germany. In the Salza district, near Meiningen, a certain 
bone in the pig is called " the Jew on the winnowing-fan." 
The flesh of this bone is boiled on Shrove Tuesday, but the 
bone is put amongst the ashes which the neighbours ex- 
change as presents on St. Peter's Day (the twenty-second of 
February), and then mix with the seed-corn.^ In the whole 
of Hesse, Meiningen, and other districts, people eat pea-soup 
with dried pig-ribs on Ash Wednesday or Candlemas. The 
ribs are then collected and hung in the room till sowing-time, 
when they are inserted in the sown field or in the seed-bag 
amongst the flax seed. This is thought to be an infallible 
specific against earth-fleas and moles, and to cause the flax 
to grow well and tall.^ In many parts of White Russia 
people eat a roast lamb or sucking-pig at Easter, and then 
throw the bones backwards upon the fields, to preserve the 
corn from hail.^ 

But the idea of the corn-spirit as embodied in pig form 
is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the Scandinavian 
custom of the Yule Boar. In Sweden and Denmark at 
Yule (Christmas) it is the custom to bake a loaf in the form 
of a boar-pig. This is called the Yule Boar. The corn of 



1 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschungeii, pp. i86 sq. 

2 Above, p. 272 ; compare 268. 
^ Above, p. 298. 

* W. Mannhardt, op. at. p. 1S7. 

^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. pp. 187 
sq. ; A. Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten tiiid 
Gebrduche aits Thiiringen, pp. 189, 



218; W. Kolbe, Hessische Volks- 
Stt/en Jtnd Gebrduche (Marburg, 1888), 
P- 35- 

6 W. Mannhardt, Mythologische 
Forschitngen, p. 1S8 ; W. R. S. Ral- 
ston, Songs of the Russian People 
(London, 1872), p. 220. 



viii THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A PIG 301 

the last sheaf is often used to make it. All through Yule 
the Yule Boar stands on the table. Often it is kept till the 
sowing-time in spring, when part of it is mixed with the 
seed-corn and part given to the ploughmen and plough- 
horses or plough-oxen to eat, in the expectation of a good 
harvest.^ In this custom the corn-spirit, immanent in the 
last sheaf, appears at midwinter in the form of a boar made 
from the corn of the last sheaf; and his quickening influence 
on the corn is shewn by mixing part of the Yule Boar with 
the seed-corn, and giving part of it to the ploughman and 
his cattle to eat. Similarly we saw that the Corn -wolf 
makes his appearance at midwinter, the time when the year 
begins to verge towards spring.^ We may conjecture that The Vuie 
the Yule straw, which Swedish peasants turn to various '^^'^^^^ '" 
superstitious uses, comes, in part at least, from the sheaf out 
of which the Yule Boar is made. The Yule straw is long 
rye-straw, a portion of which is always set apart for this 
season. It is strewn over the floor at Christmas, and the 
peasants attribute many virtues to it. For example, they 
think that some of it scattered on the ground will make a 
barren field productive. Again, the peasant at Christmas 
seats himself on a log ; and his eldest son or daughter, or the 
mother herself, if the children are not old enough, places a 
wisp of the Yule straw on his knee. From this he draws 
out single straws, and throws them, one by one, up to the 
ceiling ; and as many as lodge in the rafters, so many will 
be the sheaves of rye he will have to thresh at harvest.^ 
Again, it is only the Yule straw which may be used in bind- 
ing the fruit-trees as a charm to fertilise them.^ These uses 
of the Yule straw shew that it is believed to possess fertilis- 
ing virtues analogous to those ascribed to the Yule Boar ; 
we may therefore fairly conjecture that the Yule straw is 

1 W. Mannhardt, Antike IVald-tmd Ungewitter (Leipsic, 1842), i. 9. 
Feldkulte, pp. 197 sq. ; F. Panzer, ^ Above, p. 275. 

Beitrag zur deutschen Mythologie, ii. ^ L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden 

491 ; J. Jamieson, Etytnological (London, 1870), pp. 169 sq., 182. 

Dictionary of the Scottish Language, On Christmas night children sleep on 

New Edition (Paisley, 1879-1882), a bed of the Yule straw (/^/(/. p. 177). 
vol. iii. pp. 206 sq., s.v. "Maiden"; * U. Jahn, Die dentschen Opfer- 

Arv. Aug. Afzelius, Volkssagen iind gebrdnche (Breslau, 1884), p. 215. 

Volkslieder aus Schwedens dlterer und Compare The Magic Art and the 

neuerer Zeit, iibersetzt von F. H. Evolution of Rings, ii. 17, 27 j^. 



302 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

made from the same slieaf as the Yule Boar. Formerly a 
real boar was sacrificed at Christmas/ and apparently also 
a man in the character of the Yule Boar. This, at least, 
may perhaps be inferred from a Christmas custom still 
observed in Sweden. A man is wrapt up in a skin, and 
carries a wisp of straw in his mouth, so that the projecting 
straws look like the bristles of a boar. A knife is brought, 
and an old woman, with her face blackened, pretends to 
sacrifice him." 
The Christ- On Christmas Eve in some parts of the Esthonian 
TmoifThe island of Oesel they bake a long cake with the two ends 
Esthonians turned up. It IS Called the Christmas Boar, and stands 
on the table till the morning of New Year's Day, when 
it is distributed among the cattle. In other parts of the 
island the Christmas Boar is not a cake but a little pig 
born in March, which the housewife fattens secretly, often 
without the knowledge of the other members of the family. 
On Christmas Eve the little pig is secretly killed, then 
roasted in the oven, and set on the table standing on all 
fours, where it remains in this posture for several days. In 
other parts of the island, again, though the Christmas cake 
has neither the name nor the shape of a boar, it is kept till 
the New Year, when half of it is divided among all the 
members and all the quadrupeds of the family. The other 
half of the cake is kept till sowing-time comes round, when 
it is similarly distributed in the morning among human 
beings and beasts.^ In other parts of Esthonia, again, the 
Christmas Boar, as it is called, is baked of the first rye cut 
at harvest ; it has a conical shape and a cross is impressed 
on it with a pig's bone or a key, or three dints are made in 
it with a buckle or a piece of charcoal. It stands with a 
light beside it on the table all through the festal season. 
On New Year's Day and Epiphany, before sunrise, a little of 
the cake is crumbled with salt and given to the cattle. The 
rest is kept till the day when the cattle are driven out to 
pasture for the first time in spring. It is then put in the 

^ A. A. Afzelius, op. cit. i. 31. ^ J. B. Holzmayer, " Osiliana," Ver- 

^ A. A. Afzelius, o/>. cit. i. g ; L. Jiandliingen der geleh-ten Estnischen 

Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, pp. Gescllschaft zu Dorpat, vii. Heft 2 

181, 185. (Dorpat, 1872), pp. 55 sq. 



VIII THE CORN-SPIRIT AS A PIG 303 

herdsman's bag, and at evening is divided among the cattle 
to guard them from magic and harm. In some places the 
Christmas Boar is partaken of by farm-servants and cattle 
at the time of the barley sowing, for the purpose of thereby 
producing a heavier crop.^ 

^ 12. On the Animal Ejiibodimejits of the Corn-spirit 

So much for the animal embodiments of the corn-spirit Sacra- 
as they are presented to us in the folk-customs of Northern ^^^^^^ 

^ character 

Europe. These customs bring out clearly the sacramental of the 
character of the harvest-supper. The corn-spirit is conceived ^=^''^'"^" 
as embodied in an animal ; this divine animal is slain, and 
its flesh and blood are partaken off by the harvesters. Thus, 
the cock, the goose, the hare, the cat, the goat, and the ox 
are eaten sacramentally by the harvesters, and the pig is 
eaten sacramentally by ploughmen in spring.^ Again, as 
a substitute for the real flesh of the divine being, bread or 
dumplings are made in his image and eaten sacramentally ; 
thus, pig-shaped dumplings are eaten by the harvesters, and 
loaves made in boar-shape (the Yule Boar) are eaten in 
spring by the ploughman and his cattle. 

The reader has probably remarked the complete parallel- Parallelism 
ism between the conceptions of the corn-spirit in human '^^tweenthe 

^ ^ concep- 

and in animal form. The parallel may be here briefly tions of the 
resumed. When the corn waves in the wind it is said i^nhiiman' 
either that the Corn-mother or that the Corn-wolf, etc., and animal 
is passing through the corn. Children are warned against 
straying in corn-fields either because the Corn-mother or 
because the Corn-wolf, etc., is there. In the last corn cut or 
the last sheaf threshed either the Corn-mother or the Corn- 
wolf, etc., is supposed to be present. The last sheaf is itself 
called either the Corn-mother or the Corn-wolf, etc., and is 
made up in the shape either of a woman or of a wolf, etc. 
The person who cuts, binds, or threshes the last sheaf is 
called either the Old Woman or the Wolf, etc., according to 

1 F. J.Wiedemann, Aiisdeni innereii 290, 300, 301. In regard to the hare, 
und dussern Leben der Ehsten (St. the substitution of brandy for hare's 
Petersburg, 1876), pp. 344, 485. blood is probably modern. 

2 Above, pp. 277 j-^., 280, 281, 285, 



304 THE CORN-SPIRIT AS AN ANIMAL chap. 

the name bestowed on the sheaf itself. As in some places 

a sheaf made in human form and called the Maiden, the 

Mother of the Maize, etc., is kept from one harvest to the 

next in order to secure a continuance of the corn-spirit's 

blessing ; so in some places the Harvest-cock and in others 

the flesh of the goat is kept for a similar purpose from one 

harvest to the next. As in some places the grain taken 

from the Corn-mother is mixed with the seed-corn in spring 

to make the crop abundant ; so in some places the feathers 

of the cock, and in Sweden the Yule Boar, are kept till spring 

and mixed with the seed-corn for a like purpose. As part 

of the Corn-mother or Maiden is given to the cattle at 

Christmas or to the horses at the first ploughing, so part of 

the Yule Boar is given to the ploughing horses or oxen in 

spring. Lastly, the death of the corn-spirit is represented by 

killing or pretending to kill either his human or his animal 

representative ; and the worshippers partake sacramentally 

either of the actual body and blood of the representative 

of the divinity, or of bread made in his likeness. 

The reason Other animal forms assumed by the corn-spirit are the 

^m-spWt ^^^?' ^°^' sheep, bear, ass, mouse, stork, swan, and kite.^ 

is thought If it is asked why the corn -spirit should be thought to 

forms 'of so appear in the form of an animal and of so many different 

many ani- animals, wc may reply that to primitive man the simple 

be that wild appearance of an animal or bird among the corn is probably 

creatures euough to suggcst a mystcHOUs link between the creature 

moniy and the corn ; and when we remember that in the old days, 

penned by bgfQj-g fields werc fenced in, all kinds of animals must have 

the advance 

of the been free to roam over them, we need not wonder that the 
the^iasV"^° corn -spirit should have been identified even with large 
patch of animals like the horse and cow, which nowadays could not, 
com which c^cept by a rare accident, be found straying in an English 
is usually com-ficld. This explanation applies with peculiar force to 
theTast t^6 very common case in which the animal embodiment of 
refuge of the corn-spirit is believed to lurk in the last standing corn. 

the corn- -^ i r -i i • i i i 

spirit. ^ox at harvest a number of wild animals, such as hares, 

rabbits, and partridges, are commonly driven by the progress 
of the reaping into the last patch of standing corn, and 
make their escape from it as it is being cut down. So 

^ W. Mannhardt, Die Koynddmonen (Berlin, 1868), p. I. 



VIII ANIMAL EMBODIMENTS OF THE CORN-SPIRIT 305 

regularly does this happen that reapers and others often 
stand round the last patch of corn armed with sticks or 
guns, with which they kill the animals as they dart out of 
their last refuge among the stalks. Now, primitive man, to 
whom magical changes of shape seem perfectly credible, 
finds it most natural that the spirit of the corn, driven from 
his home in the ripe grain, should make his escape in the 
form of the animal which is seen to rush out of the last 
patch of corn as it falls under the scythe of the reaper. 
Thus the identification of the corn -spirit with an animal 
is analogous to the identification of him with a passing 
stranger. As the sudden appearance of a stranger near the 
harvest- field or threshing-floor is, to the primitive mind, 
enough to identify him as the spirit of the corn escaping 
from the cut or threshed corn, so the sudden appearance of 
an animal issuing from the cut corn is enough to identify 
it with the corn-spirit escaping from his ruined home. The 
two identifications are so analogous that they can hardly be 
dissociated in any attempt to explain them. Those who 
look to some other principle than the one here suggested 
for the explanation of the latter identification are bound 
to shew that their theory covers the former identification 
also. 



PT. v. VOL. I 



NOTE 

THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 

The constellation of the Pleiades plays an important part in the import- 
calendar of primitive peoples, both in the northern and in the ^nce of the 
southern hemisphere ; indeed for reasons which at first sight are ^'\f^ '" 
not obvious savages appear to have paid more attention to this calendars, 
constellation than to any other group of stars in the sky, and in 
particular they have commonly timed the various operations of the 
agricultural year by observation of its heliacal rising or setting. 
Some evidence on the subject was adduced by the late Dr, Richard 
Andree,^ but much more exists, and it may be worth while to put 
certain of the facts together. 

In the first place it deserves to be noticed that great attention Attention 
has been paid to the Pleiades by savages in the southern hemisphere P^'f '° ^^^ 
who do not till the ground, and who therefore lack that incentive to ^ ^'j^^ 
observe the stars which is possessed by peoples in the agricultural Australian 
stage of society ; for we can scarcely doubt that in early ages the aborigines, 
practical need of ascertaining the proper seasons for sowing and 
planting has done more than mere speculative curiosity to foster 
a knowledge of astronomy by compelling savages to scrutinise the 
great celestial clock for indications of the time of year. Now 
amongst the rudest of savages known to us are the Australian 
aborigines, none of whom in their native state ever practised 
agriculture. Yet we are told that "they do, according to their 
manner, worship the hosts of heaven, and believe particular con- 
stellations rule natural causes. For such they have names, and 
sing and dance to gain the favour of the Pleiades (Mormode/h'ck), 
the constellation worshipped by one body as the giver of rain ; but 
if it should be deferred, instead of blessings curses are apt to be 
bestowed upon it." ^ According to a writer, whose evidence on 

1 R. Andrea, " Die Pleiaden im W. Ridley, " Report on Australian 
Mythus und in ihrer Beziehung zum Languages and Traditions," yipz^rwa/ i?/" 
Jahresbeginn und Landbau," Globus, the Anthropological Institute, \i. {\%']'3,') 
Ixiv. (1893) pp. 362-366. p. 279; id., Kamilaroi {Sydney, 1875), 

2 Mr. McKellar, quoted by the Rev. p. 138. Mr. McKellar's evidence was 

307 



3o8 THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 

other matters of Australian beliefs is open to grave doubt, some of 
the aborigines of New South Wales denied that the sun is the 
source of heat, because he shines also in winter when the weather is 
cold ; the real cause of w^arm weather they held to be the Pleiades, 
because as the summer heat increases, that constellation rises higher 
and higher in the sky, reaching its greatest elevation in the height 
of summer, and gradually sinking again in autumn as the days grow 
cooler, till in winter it is either barely visible or lost to view 
altogether.^ Another writer, who was well acquainted with the 
natives of Victoria in the early days of the colony and whose testi- 
mony can be relied upon, tells us that an old chief of the Spring 
Creek tribe " taught the young people the names of the favourite 
planets and constellations, as indications of the seasons. For 
example, when Canopus is a very little above the horizon in the 
east at daybreak, the season for emu eggs has come; when the 
Pleiades are visible in the east an hour before sunrise, the time 
for visiting friends and neighbouring tribes is at hand." ^ 
Attention Again, the Abipones of Paraguay, who neither sowed nor reaped,^ 

paid to the nevertheless regarded the Pleiades as an image of their ancestor. 
the'indLns ^^ ^^^^ constellation is invisible in the sky of South America 
of Para- for several months every year, the Abipones believed that their 
guay and ancestor was then sick, and they were dreadfully afraid that he 
would die. But when the constellation reappeared in the month 
of May, they saluted the return of their ancestor with joyous shouts 
and the glad music of flutes and horns, and they congratulated 
him on his recovery from sickness. Next day they all went out to 
collect wild honey, from which they brewed a favourite beverage. 
Then at sunset they feasted and kept up the revelry all night by the 

given before a Select Committee of the of Central Australia (London, 1904), 
Legislative Council of Victoria in 1858 ; p. 628 ; A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of 
from which we may perhaps infer that South-East Australia (London, 1904), 
his statement refers especially to the pp. 429 sq. Some tribes of Victoria 
tribes of Victoria or at all events of believed that the Pleiades were origin- 
south-eastern Australia. It seems to ally a queen and six of her attendants, 
be a common belief among the abo- but that the Crow (Waa) fell in love 
rigines of central and south-eastern v.ith the queen and ran away with her, 
Australia that the Pleiades are women and that since then the Pleiades have 
who once lived on earth but afterwards been only six in number. See James 
went up into the sky. See W. E. Stan- Dawson, Australian Aborigines (Mel- 
bridge, iu Transactions of the Ethno- bourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, 1881), 
logical Society of London, 'H.?). I. [1^61) p. 1 00. 

p. 302; P. Beveridge, "Of the Abo- ' J. Manning, "Notes on the 

rigines inhabiting the great Lacustrine Aborigines of New 'HoWa.nd" Journal 

and Riverine Depression of the Lower and Proceedings of the Royal Society of 

yivixxa.y,'' eic, Joicrnal and Proceedings Neiv South JFfl/t'j', xvi. (Sydney, 1S83) 

of the Royal Society of N'ew South Wales, p. 168. 

xvii. (Sydney, 1884) p. 61 ; Baldwin ^ James Dawson, Australian. Abo- 

Spencer and F. J. Gillen, Native rigines, p. 75. 

Tribes of Central Australia (London, ^ M. Dobrizhoffer, Historia de Abi- 

1899), p. 566; id.. Northern Tribes po/iibus (Vienna., 1784), ii. 1 1 8. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 309 

light of torches, while a sorceress, who presided at the festivity, 
shook her rattle and danced. But the proceedings were perfectly 
decorous ; the sexes did not mix with each other. ^ The Mocobis of 
Paraguay also looked upon the Pleiades as their father and creator.^ 
The Guaycurus of the Gran Chaco used to rejoice greatly at the 
reappearance of the Pleiades. On this occasion they held a festival 
at which men and women, boys and girls all beat each other soundly, 
believing that this brought them health, abundance, and victory over 
their enemies.^ Amongst the Lengua Indians of Paraguay at the 
present day the rising of the Pleiades is connected with the beginning 
of spring, and feasts are held at this time, generally of a markedly 
immoral character."* The Guaranis of Paraguay knew the time of 
sowing by observation of the Pleiades ; ^ they are said to have 
revered the constellation and to have dated the beginning-, of- their 
year from the rising of the constellation in May.^ The Tapuiyas, 
formerly a numerous and warlike tribe of Brazil, hailed the rising 
of the Pleiades with great respect, and worshipped the constel- 
lation with songs and dances. ''^ The Indians of north-western 
Brazil, an agricultural people who subsist mainly by the culti- 
vation of manioc, determine the time for their various field 
labours by the position of certain constellations, especially the 
Pleiades ; when that constellation has sunk beneath the horizon, 
the regular, heavy rains set in.^ The Omagua Indians of Brazil 
ascribe to the Pleiades a special influence on human destiny.^ 
A Brazilian name for the Pleiades is Cyiuce, that is, " Mother 
of those who are thirsty." The constellation, we are told, " is 
known to the Indians of the whole of Brasil and appears to 
be even worshipped by some tribes in Matto Grosso. In the 
valley of the Amazon a number of popular sayings are current 
about it. Thus they say that in the first days of its appearance 
in the firmament, while it is still low, the birds and especially the 
fowls sleep on the lower branches or perches, and that just as it 
rises so do they ; that it brings much cold and rain ; that when the 
constellation vanishes, the serpents lose their venom ; that the reeds 

1 M. Dobrizhoffer, op. cit. ii. 77 sq., ^ Pedro de Angelis, op. cit. iv. 14. 
IOI-105. ^ Th. Waitz, Anthropologic dcr 

2 Pedro de Angelis, Coleccion de 7Va/?<rt'<)fer, iii. (Leipsic, 1S62) p. 418, 
Obras y Dociimentos relativos a la referring to Marcgrav de Liebstadt, 
Historia antigiia y moderna de las Hist, rerum naturalitwi Brasil. (Am- 
Provincias del Rio de la Plata (Buenos sterdam, 1648), viii. 5 and 12. 
Ayres, 1836-1837), iv. 15. ^ M. Dobrizhoffer, Historia de Abi- 

3 P. Lozano, Description choro- ponibtts, ii. 104. 

graphico del terreno, rios, arboles, y ^ Th. Koch-Griinberg, Zii<ei Jahre 

animales del Gran Chaco (Cordova, nnter den Indianern (Berlin, 1909- 

1733). P- 67. 1910), ii. 203. 

* W. Barbrooke Grubb, An Un- ^ C. F. Phil. v. Martius, Ziir Ethio- 

inown People in an Unknotun Land gj-aphie Avierika^s, ztimal Brasilietis 

(London, 191 1), p. 139. (Leipsic, 1867), p. 441. 



3IO THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 

used in making arrows must be cut before the appearance of the 
Pleiades, else they will be worm-eaten. According to the legend 
the Pleiades disappear in May and reappear in June. Their 
reappearance coincides with the renewal of vegetation and of animal 
life. Hence the legend relates that everything which appears before 
the constellation is renewed, that is, the appearance of the Pleiades, 
marks the beginning of spring." ^ The Indians of the Orinoco 
called the Pleiades Ucasu or Cacasau, according to their dialect, 
and they dated the beginning of their year from the time when these 
stars are visible in the east after sunset.^ 
Attention By the Indians of Peru " the Pleiades were called Collca 

paid to the /^j-jg maize - heap) : in this constellation the Peruvians both of 

Pleiades by 

the Indians ^^ sierra and the coast beheld the prototype of their cherished 
of Peru and stores of corn. It made their maize to grow, and was worshipped 
Mexico. accordingly." ^ When the Pleiades appeared above the horizon on or 
about Corpus Christi Day, these Indians celebrated their chief festival 
of the year and adored the constellation " in order that the maize 
might not dry up." * Adjoining the great temple of the Sun at Cuzco 
there was a cloister with halls opening off it. One of these halls 
was dedicated to the Moon, and another to the planet Venus, the 
Pleiades, and all the other stars. The Incas venerated the Pleiades 
because of their curious position and the symmetry of their shape.^ 
The tribes of Vera Cruz, on the coast of Mexico, dated the beginning 
of their year from the heliacal setting of the Pleiades, which in the 
latitude of Vera Cruz (19° N.) in the year 15 19 fell on the first of 
May of the Gregorian calendar.'' The Aztecs appear to have attached 
great importance to the Pleiades, for they timed the most solemn 
and impressive of all their religious ceremonies so as to coincide with 
the moment when that constellation was in the middle of the sky at 
midnight. The ceremony consisted in kindling a sacred new fire 
on the breast of a human victim on the last night of a great period 
of fifty-two years. They expected that at the close of one of these 
periods the stars would cease to revolve and the world itself would 
come to an end. Hence, when the critical moment approached, 

' Carl Teschauer, S.J., " Mythen ^ Garcilasso de la Vega, First Part 

und alte Volkssagen aus Brasilien," oftheRoyalCommentai-iesoftheYncas, 

Anthropos, i. (1906) p. 736. translated by (Sir) Clements R. Mark- 

^ J. Gumilla, Histoire Naturelle et ham (London, 1869-1S71, Hakluyt 

Civile et Geographiqiie de rOrenogite Society), i. 275. Compare J. de 

(Avignon, 1758), iii. 254^^. Acosta, Natural and Moral History of 

3 E. J. Payne, History of the Neio the Indies (London, 1880, Hakluyt 

World called America, i. (Oxford, Society), ii. 304. 
1892) p. 492. 

* P. J- de Arriaga, Extirpacion de ^'E.Se\QX,Alt-AfexikanischeSttidien, 

la Idolatria del Firzi (Lima, 1621), ii. (Berlin, 1899) pp. 166 stj., referring 

pp. II, 2^ sq. According to Arriaga, to Petrus Martyr, De miper sub D. 

the Peruvian name for the Pleiades is Carolo repertis inst/lis (Ba.s\lea.e, 1521), 

Oncoy. p. 15. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 311 

the priests watched from the top of a mountain the movement of 
the stars, and especially of the Pleiades, with the utmost anxiety. 
When that constellation was seen to cross the meridian, great was the 
joy ; for they knew that the world was respited for another fifty-two 
years. Immediately the bravest and handsomest of the captives 
was thrown down on his back ; a board of dry wood was placed on 
his breast, and one of the priests made fire by twirling a stick 
between his hands on the board. As soon as the flame burst 
forth, the breast of the victim was cut open, his heart was torn out, 
and together with the rest of his body was thrown into the fire. 
Runners carried the new fire at full speed to all parts of the king- 
dom to rekindle the cold hearths ; for every fire throughout the 
country had been extinguished as a preparation for this solemn rite.^ 

The Blackfeet Indians of North America "know and observe Attention 
the Pleiades, and regulate their most important feast by those stars. P^'^ 'o '^e 
About the first and the last days of the occultation of the Pleiades Se^North^ 
there is a sacred feast among the Blackfeet. The mode of observ- American 
ance is national, the whole of the tribe turning out for the celebra- Indians. 
tion of its rites, which include two sacred vigils, the solemn blessing 
and planting of the seed. It is the opening of the agricultural 
season. ... In all highly religious feasts the calumet, or pipe, is 
always presented towards the Pleiades, with invocation for hfe- 
giving goods. The women swear by the Pleiades as the men do by 
the sun or the morning star." At the general meeting of the nation 
there is a dance of warriors, which is supposed to represent the 
dance of the seven young men who are identified with the Pleiades. 
For the Indians say that the seven stars of the constellation were 
seven brothers, who guarded by night the field of sacred seed and 
danced round it to keep themselves awake during the long hours of 
darkness.'^ According to another legend told by the Blackfeet, the 
Pleiades are six children, who were so ashamed because they had 
no little yellow hides of buffalo calves that they wandered away on 
the plains and were at last taken up into the sky. " They are not 
seen during the moon, when the buffalo calves are yellow (spring, 
the time of their shame), but, every year, when the calves turn 
brown (autumn), the lost children can be seen in the sky every 
night." ^ This version of the myth, it will be observed, recognises 

1 B. de Sahagun, Histoire Gi'iiirale H. H. Bancroft, The Native Races of 

des ckoses de la Nouvelle Espagne {Va.x\s, the Pacific States of North America 

1880), pp. 288 sq., 489 sqq.; A. de (London, 1875-1876), iii. 393-395. 
Herrera, General History of the Vast ^ Jean I'Heureux, " Ethnological 

Continent and Islands of America, Notes on the Astronomical Customs 

translated by Capt. J. Stevens (London, and Religious Ideas of the Chokitapia 

1725-1726), iii. 222 ; F. S. Clavigero, or Blackfeet l\\d\a.ns" Journal of the 

History of Mexico, translated by C. Anthivpological Institute, xv. (1886) 

CuUen (London, 1807), i. 315 i'$'.; J. G. pp. 301-303. 

Miiller, Geschichte der ainerikanischen ^ Walter McClintock, Zy/t? C/r/A'fjr//^ 

Urreligionen (Bale, 1S67), pp. 519 ■y^'.; 7>a// (London, 1910), p. 490. 



312 THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 

only six stars in the constellation, and many savages apparently see 
no more, which speaks ill for the keenness of their vision ; since 
among ourselves persons endowed with unusually good sight are 
able, I understand, to discern seven. Among the Pueblo Indians 
of Tusayan, an ancient province of Arizona, the culmination of the 
Pleiades is often used to determine the proper time for beginning 
a sacred nocturnal rite, especially an invocation addressed to the six 
deities who are believed to rule the six quarters of the world. The 
writer who records this fact adds : " I cannot explain its signifi- 
cance, and why of all stellar objects this minute cluster of stars of a 
low magnitude is more important than other stellar groups is not 
clear to me." ^ If the Pueblo Indians see only six stars in the 
cluster, as to which I cannot speak, it might seem to them a reason 
for assigning one of the stars to each of the six quarters, namely, 
north, south, east, west, above, and below. 
Attention The Society Islanders in the South Pacific divided the year into 

p^-^ H° *h*^ '•^^^ seasons, which they determined by observation of the Pleiades. 
the Poly- " The first they called Matariii nia, Pleiades above. It commenced 
nesians. when, in the evening, these stars appeared on or near the horizon ; 
and the half year, during which, immediately after sunset, they were 
seen above the horizon, was called Matarii i nia. The other season 
commenced when, at sunset, the stars were invisible, and continued 
until at that hour they appeared again above the horizon. This 
season was called Matarii i raro, Pleiades below." ^ In the Hervey 
Islands of the South Pacific it is said that the constellation was 
originally a single star, which was shattered into six fragments by 
the god Tane. " This cluster of little stars is appropriately named 
Mata-riki or little-eyes, on account of their brightness. It is also 
designated Tau-ono, or the-six, on account of the apparent number 
of the fragments ; the presence of the seventh star not having been 
detected by the unassisted native eye." ^ Among these islanders the 
arrival of the new year was indicated by the appearance of the constel- 
lation on the eastern horizon just after sunset, that is, about the middle 
of December. " Hence the idolatrous worship paid to this beautiful 
cluster of stars in many of the South Sea Islands. The Pleiades 
were worshipped at Danger Island, and at the Penrhyns, down to 
the introduction of Christianity in 1857. In many islands extrava- 
gant joy is still manifested at the rising of this constellation out of 
the ocean." * For example, in Manahiki or Humphrey's Island, 
South Pacific, " when the constellation Pleiades was seen there was 
unusual joy all over the month, and expressed by singing, dancing, 

1 J. Walter Fewkes, "The Tusayan 1832-1836), i. 87. 

New Fire Ceremony," Proceedings of ^ Rev. W. W. Gill, Myths and 

the Boston Society of Natural Histoiy, Songs from the South Pacific (London, 

xxvi. (1895) P- 453- 1876), p. 43- 

2 Rev. W. Ellis, Polynesian Re- * Rev. W. W. Gill, op. cit. p. 317, 
seatrhes. Second Edition (London, compare p. 44. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 313 

and blowing-shell trumpets." ^ So the Maoris of New Zealand, 
another Polynesian people of the South Pacific, divided the year 
into moons and determined the first moon by the rising of the 
Pleiades, which they called Matariki} Indeed throughout Poly- 
nesia the rising of the Pleiades (variously known as Matariki, Mata- 
hki, Matalii, Makalii, etc.) seems to have marked the beginning of 
the year.^ 

Among some of the Melanesians also the Pleiades occupy an Attention 
important position in the calendar. "The Banks' islanders and paid to the 
Northern New Hebrides people content themselves with distinguish- the'Mda-^ 
ing the Pleiades, by which the approach of yam harvest is marked."'^ nesians. 
" Amongst the constellations, the Pleiades and Orion's belt seem to 
be those which are most familiar to the natives of Bougainville 
Straits. The former, which they speak of as possessing six stars, 
they name Vuhu ; the latter Matatala. They have also names for 
a few other stars. As in the case of many other savage races, the 
Pleiades is a constellation of great significance with the inhabitants 
of these straits. The Treasury Islanders hold a great feast towards 
the end of October, to celebrate, as far as I could learn, the 
approaching appearance of the constellation above the eastern 
horizon soon after sunset. Probably, as in many of the Pacific 
Islands, this event marks the beginning of their year. I learned 
from Mr. Stephens that, in Ugi, where of all the constellations the 
Pleiades alone receives a name, the natives are guided by it in 
selecting the times for planting and taking up the yams." ^ 

The natives of the Torres Straits islands observe the appearance Attention 
of the Pleiades {Usiam) on the horizon at sunset; and when they P\"^ ^°/'?'^ 
see it, they say that the new yam time has come.*^ The Kai and ^•^^ natives 
the Bukaua, two agricultural tribes of German New Guinea, also of New 
determine the season of their labour in the fields by observation of Guinea and 
the Pleiades : the Kai say that the time for such labours is when ^^hi- 
the Pleiades are visible above the horizon at night.''' In some peiago. 
districts of northern Celebes the rice-fields are similarly prepared for 
cultivation when the Pleiades are seen at a certain height above the 

1 G. Turner, 6'awi?a( London, 1 8S4), In the island of Florida the Pleiades 
p. 279. a.re C3.\\e.di togo ni saiitu, " the company 

2 E. Shortland, Traditions and of maidens " {op. cit. p. 349). 
Superstitions of the New Zealanders, 6 H. B. Guppy, The Solomon Islands 
Second Edition (London, 1856), p. ^„^ ^;^^/^, Natives (London, 1887), p. 

219- ^ 56. 

3 The United States Exploring Ex- „. „^^.. _. j r 
,.,. r-^i ^7 J m -7 1 6 A. C. Haddon, "Legends from 

peditton, Ethnography and Philology, zr A 7 • /tC^^\ „ 

\ Tj \- Tj 7 /^uM J I V,- tC./\ Torres Straits," Folk-lore, 1. (1890) p. 
by Horatio Hale (Philadelphia, 1846 , . ' .1 \. n 

•' T- T- nr ■ r, 1 ■ ^^^- We may coniecture that the 

p. 170; ^.Tx<t^&2x, Maori-Polynesian ,/-' .-',,■' ,, ,• r 

'I ' ' . r? .,• /,T7 11- .. " new yam time means the time lor 

Comparative Dictionary (Wellington, . ■' 

-NT '^ o X a planting yams. 

N.Z., 1891), p. 226. ^ ^ ■> 

* Rev. R. H. Codrington, The "^ YL.l<ie\xha.ViSs, Deutsch A'eu- Guinea 

Melanesians (Oxford, 1 891), p. 348. (Berlin, 1911), pp. 159, 43' ^^- 



314 



THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 



horizon.^ As to the Dyaks of Sarawak we read that " the Pleiades 
themselves tell them when to farm ; and according to their position 
in the heavens, morning and evening, do they cut down the forest, 
burn, plant, and reap. The Malays are obliged to follow their 
example, or their lunar year would soon render their farming opera- 
tions unprofitable." ^ When the season for clearing fresh land in 
the forest approaches, a wise man is appointed to go out before 
dawn and watch for the Pleiades. As soon as the constellation is 
seen to rise while it is yet dark, they know that the time has come 
to begin. But not until the Pleiades are at the zenith before dawn 
do the Dyaks think it desirable to burn the fallen timber and to sow 
the rice.^ However, the Kenyahs and Kayans, two other tribes of 
Sarawak, determine the agricultural seasons by observation of the 
sun rather than of the stars ; and for this purpose they have devised 
certain simple but ingenious mechanisms. The Kenyahs measure 
the length of the shadow cast by an upright pole at noon ; and the 
Kayans let in a beam of light through a hole in the roof and 
measure the distance from the point immediately below the hole to 
the place where the light reaches the floor.* But the Kayans of the 
Mahakam river, in Dutch Borneo, determine the time for sowing by 
observing when the sun sets in a line with two upright stones.^ In 
Bali, an island to the east of Java, the appearance of the Pleiades at 
sunset in March marks the end of the year.^ The Pleiades and 



1 A. F. van Spreeuwenberg, " Een 
blik op de Minahassa," Tijdschrift 
voor Neerlaiids Indie, Vierde Deel 
(Batavia, 1845), p. 316; J. G. F. 
Riedel, " De landschappen Holontalo, 
Limoeto, Bone, Boalemo, at Katting- 
gola, of Andagile," Tijdschrift voor 
Indische Taal- Land- en Volkenktinde, 
xix. (1869) p. 140; id., in Zeitschrift 

fiir Ethnologie, iii. (187 1) p. 404. 

2 Spenser St. John, Life in the 
Forests of the Far East, Second 
Edition (London, 1863), i. 214. 
Compare H. Low, Sarawak (London, 
1848), p. 251. 

3 Dr. Charles Hose, " Various 
Modes of computing the Time for 
Planting among the Races of Borneo," 

Journal of the Straits Branch of the 
Royal Asiatic Society, No. 42 (Singa- 
pore, 1905), pp. I sq. Compare 
Charles Brooke, Ten Years in Sara- 
wak (London, 1866), i. 59; Rev. 
J. Perham, "Sea Dyak Religion," 
Journal of the Straits Branch of tlie 
Royal Asiatic Society, No. 10 (Singa- 
pore, 1883), p. 229. 

* Dr. Charles Hose, op. cit. p. 4. 



Compare id. , ' ' The Natives of Bor- 
neo," Journal of tiie Antliropolcgical 
Institute, xxiii. (1894) pp. 168 sq., 
where the writer tells us that the 
Kayans and many other races in Borneo 
sow the rice when the Pleiades appear 
just above the horizon at daybreak, 
though the Kayans more usually deter- 
mine the time for sowing by observa- 
tion of the sun. As to the Kayan 
mode of determining the time for sow- 
ing by the length of shadow cast by an 
upright pole, see also W. Kiikenthal, 
Forschungsreise in den Molukken und 
in Borneo (Frankfort, 1896), pp. 292 
sq. Some Dyaks employ a species of 
sun-dial for dating the twelve months 
of the year. See H. E. D. Engel- 
haard, " Aanteekeningen betreffende 
de Kindjin Dajaks in het Landschap 
Baloengan," Tijdschrift voor Indische 
Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde, xxxix. 
(1S97) pp. 484-486. 

^ A. W. Nieuwenhuis, Quer diirch 
Borneo (Leyden, 1904-1907), i. 160. 

^ F. K. Ginzel, Handbuch der 
maihematischen undtechnisclien Chrono- 
logie, i. (Leipsic, 1906) p. 424. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 315 

Orion are the only constellations which the people of Bali observe 
for the purpose of correcting their lunar calendar by intercala- 
tion. Yor example, they bring the lunar year into harmony 
with the solar by prolonging the month Asada until the Pleiades 
are visible at sunset.^ The natives of Nias, an island to the 
south of Sumatra, pay little heed to the stars, but they have 
names for the Morning Star and for the Pleiades ; and when 
the Pleiades appear in the sky, the people assemble to till their 
fields, for they think that to do so before the rising of the con- 
stellation would be useless." In some districts of Sumatra " much 
confusion in regard to the period of sowing is said to have arisen 
from a very extraordinary cause. Anciently, say the natives, it was 
regulated by the stars, and particularly by the appearance (heliacal 
rising) of the bintang baniak or Pleiades ; but after the introduction 
of the Mahometan religion, they were induced to follow the returns 
of the pudsa or great annual fast, and forgot their old rules. The 
consequence of this was obvious ; for the lunar year of the hejrah 
being eleven days short of the sidereal or solar year, the order of the 
seasons was soon inverted ; and it is only astonishing that its inapt- 
ness to the purposes of agriculture should not have been immedi- 
ately discovered."^ The Battas or Bataks of central Sumatra date 
the various operations of the agricultural year by the positions of 
Orion and the Pleiades. When the Pleiades rise before the sun at 
the beginning of July, the Achinese of northern Sumatra know that 
the time has come to sow the rice.* 

Scattered and fragmentary as these notices are, they suffice to Attention 
shew that the Pleiades have received much attention from savages Pf ^ ^° ^^ 

. . . ^ , 1 1 r T-» -1 • 1 Pleiades by 

in the tropical regions of the world from Brasil m the east to t^e natives 
Sumatra in the west. Far to the north of the tropics the rude of Africa. 
Kamchatkans are said to know only three constellations, the Great 
Bear, the Pleiades, and three stars in Orion. ^ When we pass to 
Africa we again find the Pleiades employed by tribes in various 
parts of the continent to mark the seasons of the agricultural year. 
We have seen that the Caffres of South Africa date their new year 
from the rising of the Pleiades just before sunrise and fix the time 
for sowing by observation of that constellation.^ " They calculate 

^ R. Friederich, " Voorloopig Ver- ^ W. Marsden, History of Sumatra, 

slag van hat eiland Bali," Verha7ide- Third Edition (London, 181 1), p. 

lingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap 7 1 . 

vatt Knnsten en Wettenschappen, xxiii. * F. K. Ginzel, Handbuch der 

(1849) p. 49. mathematiscken undtechnischen Chjvno- 

2 J. T. Nieuwenhuisen en H. C. B. logie, i. (Leipsic, 1906) p. 428. 

von Rosenberg, " Verslag omtient het ^ S. Krascheninnikow, Beschreib- 

eiland Nias en deszelfs Bewoners," iing des Landes Kamtschatka (Lemgo, 

Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch 1766), p. 217. The three stars are 

Genootschap van Kunsten en Weten- probably the Belt. 

schappen, xxx. (Batavia, iS63)p. 119. ^ See above, vol. i. p. 1 16. 



3i6 777^ PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 

only twelve lunar months for the year, for which they have descrip- 
tive names, and this results in frequent confusion and difference of 
opinion as to which month it really is. The confusion is always 
rectified by the first appearance of Pleiades just before sunrise, and 
a fresh start is made and things go on smoothly till once more the 
moons get out of place, and reference has again to be made to the 
stars." ^ According to another authority on the Bantu tribes of 
South Africa, " the rising of the Pleiades shortly after sunset was 
regarded as indicating the planting season. To this constella- 
tion, as well as to several of the prominent stars and planets, 
they gave expressive names. They formed no theories concerning 
the nature of the heavenly bodies and their motions, and were not 
given to thinking of such things." ^ The Amazulu call the Pleiades 
Isilimela, which means "The digging-for (stars)," because when the 
Pleiades appear the people begin to dig. They say that " Isilimela 
(the Pleiades) dies, and is not seen. It is not seen in winter ; and 
at last, when the winter is coming to an end, it begins to appear — 
one of its stars first, and then three, until going on increasing it 
becomes a cluster of stars, and is perfectly clear when the sun is 
about to rise. And we say Isilimela is renewed, and the year 
is renewed, and so we begin to dig."^ The Bechuanas "are 
directed by the position of certain stars in the heavens, that the 
time has arrived, in the revolving year, when particular roots can be 
dug up for use, or when they may commence their labours of the 
field. This is their likhakologo (turnings or revolvings), or what we 
should call the spring time of the year. The Pleiades they call 
selemela, which may be translated 'cultivator,' or the precursor of 
agriculture, from lemela, the relative verb to cultivate for ; and se, 
a pronominal prefix, distinguishing them as the actors. Thus, 
when this constellation assumes a certain position in the heavens, 
it is the signal to commence cultivating their fields and gardens." '^ 
Among some of these South African tribes the period of seclu- 
sion observed by lads after circumcision comes to an end with 
the appearance of the Pleiades, and accordingly the youths are 
said to long as ardently for the rising of the constellation as 
Mohammedans for the rising of the moon which will put an end 
to the fast of Ramadan.^ The Hottentots date the seasons of the 

^ Rev. J. Macdonald, Lig-ht in (London, 1827), ii. 359. 

Africa, Second Edition (London, ^ j^gy^ h. Callaway, 77^1? Religiotis 

1890), pp. 194 sq. Compare J. System of the Amazulu, Part iii. 

Sechefo, "The Twelve Lunar Months (London, etc., 1870), p. 397. 

among the Basuto," Anthropos, iv. '^ K. ls/lo^a.i. Missionary Labotirs and 

(1909) p. 931. Scenes in Southern Africa (London, 

'^ G. McCall Theal, Records of 1842), pp. 337 sq. 

South-Eastern Africa, vii. (1901) p. *> Stephen Kay, Travels and Re- 

418. Compare G. Thompson, Travels searches in Caffraria (London, 1833), 

and Adventures in Southern Africa p. 273. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 317 

year by the rising and setting of the Pleiades.^ An early Moravian 
missionary settled among the Hottentots, reports that "at the return of 
the Pleiades these natives celebrate an anniversary ; as soon as these 
stars appear above the eastern horizon mothers will lift their little ones 
on their arms, and running up to elevated spots, will show to them 
those friendly stars, and teach them to stretch their little hands towards 
them. The people of a kraal will assemble to dance and to sing 
according to the old custom of their ancestors. The chorus always 
sings : ' O Tiqua, our Father above our heads, give rain to us, that 
the fruits (bulbs, etc.), uie^itjes, may ripen, and that we may have 
plenty of food, send us a good year.' " ^ With some tribes of British 
Central Africa the rising of the Pleiades early in the evening is the 
signal for the hoeing to begin.^ To the Masai of East Africa the 
appearance of the Pleiades in the west is the sign of the beginning 
of the rainy season, which takes its name from the constellation.* 
In Masailand the Pleiades are above the horizon from September 
till about the seventeenth of May ; and the people, as they express 
it themselves, " know whether it will rain or not according to the 
appearance or non-appearance of the six stars, called The Pleiades, 
which follow after one another like cattle. When the month which 
the Masai call ' Of the Pleiades ' ^ arrives, and the Pleiades are no 
longer visible, they know that the rains are over. For the Pleiades 
set in that month and are not seen again until the season of 
showers has come to an end : "^ it is then that they reappear." ^ 
The only other groups of stars for which the Masai appear to 
have names are Orion's sword and Orion's belt.^ The Nandi 
of British East Africa have a special name i^Koremerik) for the 
Pleiades, " and it is by the appearance or non-appearance of these 
stars that the Nandi know whether they may expect a good or a 
bad harvest." ^ The Kikuyu of the same region say that " the 
Pleiades is the mark in the heavens to show the people when to 
plant their crops ; they plant when this constellation is in a certain 
position early in the night." ^'^ In Sierra Leone " the proper time 

1 Gustav Fritsch, Die Eingeboreneii ^ A. C. HoUis, The Masai (Oxford, 
Siid-Afrika's (Breslau, 1872). p. 340. 1905), p. 275, compare p. 333. The 

2 Theophilus Hiihn, Tsmii-Goam, "season of showers" seems to be a 
the Supreme Being of the Khoi-Khoi name for the dry season (June, July, 
(London, l88i), p. 43, quoting the August), when rain falls only occasion- 
Moravian missionary George Schmidt, ally ; it is thus distinguished from the 
who was sent out to the Cape of Good rainy season of winter, which begins 
Hope in 1737. after the reappearance of the Pleiades 

3 H. S. Stannus, " Notes on some in September. 

Tribes of British Central Africa," ^ A. C. Hollis, The Masai, pp. 

Journal of the R. Anthropological In- 275 sq. 

stitute, xl. (1910) p. 2S9. " A. C. Hollis, The Nandi (Q-doxA, 

* M. Merker, Die Masai (Berlin, 1909), p. 100. 

1894), pp. 15s, 198. IOC. W. Hobley, "Further Re- 

■'■ May. ^ June- August. searches into Kikuyu and Kamba 



3i8 THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS note 



Attention 
paid to the 
Pleiades by 
the Greeks 
and 
Romans. 



The 

widespread 
association 
of the 
Pleiades 
with agri- 
culture 
seems to be 
based on 
the coin- 
cidence of 
their rising 
or setting 
with the 
commence- 
ment of 
the rainy 
season. 



for preparing the plantations is shewn by the particular situation in 
which the Pleiades, called by the BuUoms a-warrang, the only stars 
which they observe or distinguish by peculiar names, are to be seen 
at sunset." ^ We have seen that ancient Greek farmers reaped their 
corn when the Pleiades rose at sunrise in May, and that they ploughed 
their fields when the constellation set at sunrise in November.^ The 
interval between the two dates is about six months. Both the Greeks 
and the Romans dated the beginning of summer from the heliacal 
rising of the Pleiades and the beginning of winter from their heliacal 
setting.^ Pliny regarded the autumnal setting of the Pleiades as the 
proper season for sowing the corn, particularly the wheat and the 
barley, and he tells us that in Greece and Asia all the crops were 
sown at the setting of that constellation.* 

So widespread over the world has been and is the association of 
the Pleiades with agriculture, especially with the sowing or planting 
of the crops. The reason for the association seems to be the coincid- 
ence of the rising or setting of the constellation with the commence- 
ment of the rainy season ; since men must very soon have learned 
that the best, if not the only, season to sow and plant is the time 
of year when the newly-planted seeds or roots will be quickened by 
abundant showers. The same association of the Pleiades with rain 
seems sufficient to explain their importance even for savages who 
do not till the ground ; for ignorant though such races are, they yet 
can hardly fail to observe that wild fruits grow more plentifully, and 
therefore that they themselves have more to eat after a heavy fall of 
rain than after a long drought. In point of fact we saw that some 
of the Australian aborigines, who are wholly ignorant of agriculture, 
look on the Pleiades as the givers of rain, and curse the constellation 
if its appearance is not followed by the expected showers."' On the 
other side of the world, and at the opposite end of the scale of 
culture, the civilised Greeks similarly supposed that the autumnal 
setting of the Pleiades was the cause of ttie rains which followed it ; 
and the astronomical writer Geminus thought it worth while to argue 
against the supposition, pointing out that the vicissitudes of the 
weather and of the seasons, though they may coincide with the 
risings and settings of the constellations, are not produced by them, 



Religious Beliefs and Customs," 
Journal of the Royal Anthropological 
Institute., xli. (191 1) p. 442. 

^ Thomas Win terbottom, An Account 
of the Native Africans in the Neigh- 
bourhood of Sierra Leone (London, 
1803), p. 48. 

2 Hesiod, Works and Days, 383 
sq., 615 sqq. See above, pp. 45, 48. 

^ Aratus, Phaeiiofnena, 264 - 267 ; 
Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 123, 125, xviii. 
280, " Vergiliae privatim attitient ad 



fructus, ut quariim exortu aestas in- 
ciptat, occasu hiems, sonenstri spatio 
intra se messes vindemiasque et o>nnium 
maturitatem conplexae" Compare L. 
Ideler, Handbuch der inathe?natischen 
und technischen Chronologie (Berlin, 
1 825- 1 826), i. 241 sq. Pliny dated 
the rising of the Pleiades on the loth 
of May and their setting on the i ith of 
November {^Nat. Hist. ii. 123, 125). 

* Pliny, Nat. Hist, xviii. 49 and 223. 

^ See above, p. 307. 



NOTE THE PLEIADES IN PRIMITIVE CALENDARS 



119 



the stars being too distant from the earth to exercise any appreciable 
influence on our atmosphere. Hence, he says, though the constella- 
tions serve as the signals, they must not be regarded as the causes, 
of atmospheric changes ; and he aptly illustrates the distinction by a 
reference to beacon-fires, which are the signals, but not the causes, 
of war.^ 



1 Geminus, Elemcnta Astronomiae, 
xvii. lo sqq. If " the sweet influences 
of the Pleiades " in the Authorised 
Version of the English Bible were an 
exact translation of the corresponding 
Hebrew words in Job xxxviii. 31, we 
should naturally explain the "sweet in- 
fluences" by the belief that the autumnal 
setting of the constellation is the cause 
of rain. But the rendering of the 



words is doubtful ; it is not even certain 
that the constellation referred to is the 
Pleiades. See the commentaries of 
A. B. Davidson and Professor A. S. 
Peak on the passage. The Revised 
English Version translates the words 
in question " the cluster of the 
Pleiades." Compare H. Grimme, Das 
israelitische Pfingstfest nnd der Pleja- 
denktilt (Paderborn, 1907), pp. 61 sqq. 



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